Early Years Columns
Children of legal kindergarten age should not be denied entry into school because they are not considered "ready," according to the National Association for the Education of Young Children.
The group argues in a new monograph against such practices as moving back the cutoff date for school, tracking children on the basis of tests, and having them repeat kindergarten.
Rather than expecting children "to adapt to an inappropriate system," the group says, schools should adjust curricula to meet differing levels of development.
"Kindergarten Policies: What is Best for Children?" also suggests that schools offer a choice of kindergarten class lengths and full-day programs for at-risk children and those with working parents.
A study by the Bank Street College of Education and Wellesley College suggests that many new preschool programs do not serve the needs of working parents.
While 28 states now fund such programs, only five offer services for the entire working day, according to the Public School Early Childhood Study, which details program funding, eligibility, staff criteria, regulation, and coordination.
Surveys of state and district programs and case studies of 13 model programs are available for $21.95 from Bank Street College, 610 West 112th St., New York, N.Y. 10025. The three sets of materials may be ordered separately for $9.95, $5.95, and $7.95, respectively.
Before entering school, children should be able to count to 10, match shapes, stand on one foot, and retell a simple story, according to a survey of 3,000 kindergarten teachers.
A pamphlet on school readiness published by World Book Inc., in collaboration with the Chicago Public Schools, identifies 105 skills ranging from reading readiness to social development.
"Getting Ready for School: What Kindergarten Teachers Would Like Your Child to Know" is available from World Book, 510 Merchandise Mart, Station 99, Chicago, Ill. 60604. A 39-cent postage fee is required.
The familiar games of hopscotch and London Bridge may be relics "from a bygone era," according to a University of Michigan researcher.
Phyllis S. Weikart, a physical-education professor, has found a steady decline in motor-skill coordination among children of "the television generation." And her data suggest that teachers may not be helping.
Sixty percent of the 337 teachers Ms. Weikart surveyed said they lacked the knowledge to develop preschoolers' motor skills.
Ms. Weikart offers suggestions in Round the Circle: Key Experiences in Movement for Children Ages 3-5, published by the High/Scope press.--dg