- School reformers are pushing to expand public kindergarten towards more academic standards and an increasing number of children are exposed earlier and earlier to basic math and language. On one hand, this trend is worrying some education experts and parents who think that such young kids should be playing with blocks rather than sitting still in front of a teacher to follow geometry lessons. While on the other hand, according to a study by researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, preschools that neglect to include more academic subjects in their curriculum may do a disservice to the younger ones.
- The Californian study showed that, at the end of kindergarten, the students who have benefited of one year of "academic-oriented preschool" obtained better results than their peers who have received a less academic-focused education. The gap was, on average, as large as two and a half months of learning in numeracy and literacy. “Simply dressing up like a firefighter or building an exquisite Lego edifice may not be enough,” said Bruce Fuller, the lead author of the research.
- While the new pre-K still fosters creative play, its main goal is "kindergarten-readiness," which implies to exchange more formal conversations and work more on basic mathematical concepts in the classroom. The great news is that - according to the Berkeley researchers - the pupils who attended advanced early education classes did not seem to be hurt emotionally or socially. "Academic-oriented" prekindergarten programs were defined as programs in which time is devoted most days on activities such as: sounding out words, counting out loud, learning new vocabulary and measuring and telling time.
Ashley Rzonca, a preschool teacher at Woodside Community School in Queens, with students (EduBayer / The New York Times)