A recent study finds that kindergartners benefit from advanced activities, and are capable of more complex tasks than previously thought. The results indicate that Kindergarten students are capable of learning sight vocabulary and simple mathematical operations.
A study published in the American Educational Research Journal looked at the effects of focusing on more advanced reading and mathematics content in kindergarten and found that student performance improves when teachers focus on the more difficult material.
Researchers from the University of Chicago and Vanderbilt University defined “basic” content as topics like counting out loud, identifying shapes, naming and identifying letters and practicing handwriting skills, while “advanced” content included simple addition, working with two-digit numbers, using context clues for reading comprehension and common prepositions.
Effect of Exposure to Advanced Content
“We find a consistent and positive effect of exposure to advanced content for all children in both reading and mathematics,” researchers wrote. “We find that all children, regardless of their early childhood care experiences, benefit from more exposure to advanced mathematics content.”
In mathematics, greater focus on basic content was linked to lower test scores, while focusing on the advanced content boosted test performance for students overall. For reading, focusing on the basic content appeared to have no significant effect on test scores, but spending more class time on advanced topics increased performance.
The researchers acknowledge that while the gains in test scores are not large, they also require only small changes to how kindergarten classes are taught.
“While this is a modest gain, changing content coverage might be an inexpensive means of intervening, particularly when compared with options such as lengthening the school day (e.g., full-day kindergarten) or reducing class size,” the researchers stated.
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