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Lost Before You Start Kindergarten

September 27, 2016
Plain English Version


When should school begin? Most experts agree it starts at home. Parents who read and talk to their kids get them ready to go to school.

Studies have shown that some children are not prepared for kindergarten. Some experts have suggested that pre-kindergarten programs would help those children.

It turns out that not all pre-k programs are the same. What should pre-k programs focus on? Should pre-k be about play and developing social skills? Or should the child start to learn to read and do arithmetic in pre-k?

More kids are now in pre-k programs. Kindergarten now is becoming more academic. It is now more about the ABCs. The “play” part of kindergarten now has become more about schoolwork. In some programs, there is even homework. More schools use tests.

Parents are uncertain about what is best. It is in the interest of the school to produce students who test well. Pre-k programs that send prepared students to kindergarten are well-regarded. Kindergartens that teach kids to read prepare them to do well in the first grade.

One could say school success or failure starts early in a child’s life. Do pre-k and kindergarten programs only start the process earlier? Do these programs close the gap in results among kids from different backgrounds? And how well do they serve children who come from homes where the parents do not speak English?

Teachers are of two minds and approaches. They do expect more from children. Pre-k has made a difference in skills. Many believe that you can teach kids to start to read in kindergarten. And you can make it fun and enjoyable. Others say that pre-k and kindergarten should be about play. It should not be about the learning. Many parents feel this way. Other parents believe the first-grade is where to start to teach to read.

Most schools now think it is never too soon to start to learn. Of course, different schools in different places have their views. It is the burden of parents to make sense of all this.

Source: The Washington Post September 25, 2016

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