Kindergarten: A Garden for Children
May 6, 2009 · Posted in Education, K-5 Kids, Parenting, Pressure on Children · Permalink

imageskin-der-gar-ten (noun): german – kinder children + garten garden, a school or class for children ages four to six. Modern meaning: academic pressure cooker

Peggy Orenstein’s piece in the May 2, 2009 issue of The New York Times Magazine, “Kindergarten Cram”, is perfect. It shows how the modern kindergarten class has all but eradicated play from its curriculum.  Play is children’s language, play is children’s work. It provides the canvass for imagination, for role playing and making sense of the world they see around them. Play is the natural arena for learning social skills like compromise and leadership, and is an outlet for children to express their inner worlds: their hopes, worries, struggles and resolutions.

The change in kindergarten from a safe and playful introduction to elementary school to an academic pressure cooker typifies the dangerous trend toward the adultification of children.  Orenstein cites the recent study by the Alliance for Childhood that confirms that all the recent focus on academic testing of five year olds  “neither predicts nor improves children’s educational outcomes”. Research based evidence about learning, the rise in childhood anxiety and depression, and common sense tell us that this is the wrong way to go. We need to buck the system and protect our children.

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  1. Julia
    May 10th, 2009 | 1:49 pm

    I completely agree. Play is incredibly important for children as this unstructured time helps the imagination and develops independence. This current obsession with achievement and success has diluted the fundamental idea that children need free time to explore and discover. As adults we should be promoting and supporting play time in school.

  2. jason
    May 13th, 2009 | 8:39 pm

    Too many parents are focused on what school their kids are entering instead of focusing on what is best for their child. Instead of teaching my sons how to count to 50 in 14 different languages at 3.5, I’m going to to teach them to build a fort!

  3. brady's mom
    May 21st, 2009 | 9:30 pm

    This made me realize how swept up even my husband and I can get worrying about our son’s academic achievements and already having high expectations for him. We really need to lay off the pressure and let him be kid – THANK YOU.

  4. Lydia Morrison
    June 6th, 2009 | 4:34 pm

    Love this idea of the Garden for children. I love the idea of a Garden for adults too!

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