Why are we spending so much time focusing on Kindergarten Readiness? Why are we rushing childhood and trying to get children ready for the “next” instead of being present and accepting children where they are? Why are we not trusting play when the research clearly states young children learn and thrive through play?
I guess I can understand to a point, parents want the best for their children and they want them to be successful. However, I am really concerned in regard to the focus on “readiness” and the push down of academics that keeps happening for young children. The research keeps reiterating that children learn through play, and that earlier pushes for academics have long term negative consequences, yet we continue to have unrealistic academic expectations for young children. (There is an article in Psychology Today that discusses the harmful effects of early academics you can access by clicking here). The system is broken, but you have a choice.
Michael Leeman from the Roseville Community Preschool talks about re-framing our question. Rather than asking “Is my child ready for kindergarten?” we could ask “Is my child done with this preschool?” In many countries children are not placed into a formal education setting until they are seven years of age. Did you know that kindergarten is not mandatory in many states? This means that you have a choice, if you don’t feel like a setting is appropriate for your child you do not have to settle. There are many options including opting to wait a year before enrolling your child. There are additional options with private schools, charter schools, homeschool or to enroll in public school at home. (Regulations and options vary from state to state).
I think the most important things I can do to help children is to truly trust them, and to truly embrace and know that play is what the young children in my program need to thrive. Through play all is possible. Children are developing a strong sense of self, they are working out problems and developing their social skills. They are developing a love of learning and gaining personal power. It is not so much “what” they are learning, but most importantly they are investigating how to learn. By facilitating an environment where children can play, I am not only helping them to be “ready” for school, but ultimately giving them an opportunity to thrive throughout life.
Dan Hodgins and I discussed this very topic in the fourth episode of The Shakin’ Bones podcast. If you have not listened to it yet and would like to, Here it is! (Click on Episodes and choose episode #4 Kindergarten Readiness. Please note this episode has some interference, but the sound quality does get better with later episodes!)
The bottom line (pun intended) is that the most important skills you can work on with your child prior to kindergarten are life skills. Things like self-care and developing a strong sense of self are important for starting school and basic human survival! These skills are not only helpful for your child, but also make the job of a kindergarten teacher with a larger number of students much easier!
Do you have any thoughts on Kindergarten Readiness??? I would love to hear from you!