Are kindergartners losing time for play to academics? Many educators are sharing the concern that kindergarten is becoming the new first grade, as they strive to keep activities developmentally appropriate.
At Folwell School in Minneapolis, David Boucher's kindergarten class was busily engaged in reciting vowels, rhyming words, sentence decoding, and drilling vocabulary. At the end of the school year, kindergartners will be expected to read sentences like "The duck went into the little house."
In Minnesota, kindergarten used to be based on a learning while playing philosophy. Now, reading earlier and doing first grade level math is emphasized.
“Kindergarten is the new first grade, period,” said Greta Callahan, who teaches kindergarten at Bethune Community School in north Minneapolis.
Teachers are working to balance the heightened learning standards with developmentally appropriate activities. Play is often the casualty.
“Thirty years ago, 5 percent of kids could read at the end of kindergarten,” Boucher said. “Now, everybody’s expected to read at the end of kindergarten.”