Creative Child

Are Your Children Playing Enough in Preschool?

by Deborah Song on May 31st, 2017

Kindergarten is not what it used to be. Much of the exploratory playtime of yore is being replaced with rigid academic learning. And the pressure to meet new kindergarten standards is having a trickle-down effect on many preschools. Preschools all over the country are trading in their sensory tables of sand and water or dramatic play areas with writing centers and a curriculum that expects preschoolers to sit still and focus.

But research after research shows that this new shift in paradigm is doing more harm than good. Not only is the new demand for preschoolers to learn through teacher-driven instruction stifling curiosity and a willingness to take academic risks, but it’s causing premature stress, impeding self confidence and destroying motivation of learners.

Child-centered curriculums, on the reverse, teach math, critical thinking and literacy through hands-on activities and self-directed play, which help children thrive academically, socially and emotionally.

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So why are America’s preschools failing amidst ample research that clearly shows what works and what doesn’t?

For one, kindergarten preparedness and readiness has become a national priority, in large part because of the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB). Public schools and much of the state-funded preschools have suddenly become accountable through standardized tests. While accountability itself is not a bad thing, schools have become fixated on short-term solutions instead of long-term growth plans for fear of losing funding or being shut down completely.

Another reason for our failing preschools is the amount of funding. We spend less than half of other developed nations like Spain, Israel and Denmark on our preschool programs. Teachers are woefully underpaid and underskilled, and turnover is high.

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