Playful kindergarten child in classroom

Joyful learning and assessment in kindergarten (excerpt)

Kindergarten interest forum

[ By Kim Hughes and Dominic Gullo for NAEYC's Young Children magazine ]

The bar for today's kindergarten has been raised. With more children enrolled in pre-kindergarten programs and state academic kindergarten standards becoming more prevalent, expectations for both kindergarten children and their teachers have risen.

Since 2001–02 the total enrollment for state-funded prekindergartens has increased by 73% for 4-year-olds and 45% for 3-year-olds. More than 80% of all 4-year-olds attend some kind of pre-K program. In addition, over the last 30 years a trend has developed to establish an earlier-in-the-year cutoff date for kindergarten entry. In 1975, 9 states required children to have turned age 5 by September or earlier to enter kindergarten; in 1990, 28 states made this a requirement; and by 2005, 33 states had made the requirement.

Entering a kindergarten classroom today, we are more likely to see academically oriented teacher-directed instruction than active learning based on socialization, imagination, and creativity.

The kindergarten curriculum now emphasizes content-oriented, skill-based learning that teachers assess with conventional measures such as worksheets or other paper-and-pencil tests to determine what skills or knowledge children have attained.

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