To the Editor:
“The Case for the New Kindergarten: Both Playful and Academi,c” highlighted the perceived gap between kindergarten classrooms and preschool programming regarding approaches to learning. Aligning school readiness goals through a collaborative process for a community is extremely important. A strong partnership between kindergarten and preschool programs is fundamental to supporting child-literacy levels and the important learning that takes place before 3rd grade.
As the Commentary authors wrote, these days kindergarten lasts longer and offers greater academic rigor than was the case a few decades ago. But kindergarten teachers will attest that they still need children able to attend to tasks, have intrinsic strategies for learning, and understand how to work in a group.
I fully agree that kindergarten classrooms can be exciting, developmentally appropriate, and able to offer rigorous academic instruction. But as a consultant working with Head Start programs, I have observed teachers both in kindergarten and preschool who lack the high-quality planning time needed to create rich environments for learning. I have seen that teachers are exhausted by larger class sizes and longer days (many without a daily break).
An essential element of early learning is supportive, reflective, consistent supervision and a culture that values creativity. I have heard negativity from school leaders regarding the quality of curriculum or classroom environments. The tone at the top is important to foster creative environments. The culture of the school will support either engaged, creative teachers or teachers who settle for non-dynamic activities.
I applaud the authors’ charge to focus on engaging, fun, developmentally appropriate learning experiences tailored to each child. Being a kid should be fun, and working with kids should be rewarding.
Creative Culture Advances Early Learning LLC
A version of this article appeared in the August 06, 2014 edition of Education Week as Reflective, Creative Culture Advances Early Learning