More Work, Less Play: Kindergarten
When does pressure to be academically successful begin?
A recent NPR story shared the results gathered by a study at the University of Virginia about early elementary experiences, specifically in relation to expectations of Kindergartners.
By comparing responses from teachers from 1998 and 2010, this study was able to highlight many differences between Kindergarten then and now. For example, it was found that Kindergartners now experience more tests and worksheets and less play and interactive learning. Teachers were more likely to focus on testing in 2010, and had increased the amount of time teaching math and reading. This increase led to the decrease in instruction time for music and art, as well as less time spent in play areas.
Comparatively, another study found that those who have decreased “general knowledge” upon entering school had lower science scores through 8th grade, as predicted by their performance in Kindergarten. This general knowledge of the natural and social world was built by encouraging exploration and interest in a child’s environment, which transferred into curiosity about science-related topics. It was stated that children who do not have access to quality child-care or activities that promote this mindset are most at risk.
Programs such as School to Career Progressions work during and after school to engage students in learning valuable life skills to contribute to their success. By covering relevant topics such as successful behaviors, children are introduced to ways that increase general knowledge.
While kindergarten may seem like an early age to be making serious statements on a child’s "success", it is never too early to encourage youth to get interested in their environment. Let's work on allowing youth to develop their idea of success, and provide them with the opportunities to learn important life-skills that will help them reach it.