"The whole people must take upon themselves the education of the whole people and be willing to bear the expenses of it. There should not be a district of one mile square, without a school in it, not founded by a charitable individual, but maintained at the public expense of the people themselves." -- John Adams

"No money shall be drawn from the treasury, for the benefit of any religious or theological institution." -- Indiana Constitution Article 1, Section 6.

"If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilisation, it expects what never was and never will be...nor can they be safe with them without information. Where the press is free and every man able to read, all is safe." – Thomas Jefferson

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Good schools...Kindergartens...Pre-Schools

Lots of stuff today…

First.

(From the web site - August to June):
An 88 minute documentary that celebrates values we are on the brink of losing in the single-minded pursuit of higher test scores.

Come inside a public school happily and purposefully going against current trends! Join 26 8-10 year olds, their teacher, and their parents for a year bursting with opportunities for curiosity, creativity and compassion.



Second and third - Two entries from The Answer Sheet.

Why kids in school need to play.
Since when did the word "play" become outlawed in kindergarten? I remember a time when kindergarten classrooms were stocked with wooden blocks, paint, and dramatic-play corners complete with costuming, furniture, appliances, and play food. Not so long ago, there was a period during the day when we encouraged kindergarten students to freely explore, create, and interact with the materials and people around them.

On the surface, children may appear to be only "having fun" during this unstructured time, but take a closer look and you’ll discover what I know: Play is so much more than idle entertainment. Play, including the ability to make your own choices, helps children develop and use essential social-emotional and academic-learning skills.
Tutors for 3-year-olds and more preschool nuttiness
Parents are:

*Begging school directors to let their 1 1/2 year olds into programs for 2 year olds because Danny and Olivia are so incredibly advanced.

*Demanding to know why their 2-year-old isn’t being given the alphabet to copy over and over and memorize.

*Afraid that any services their child needs, such as speech therapy, will go on the youngster’s “permanent record” and harm their chances of getting into a private school.

*Enrolling their 3 year olds in so many activities that the kids are falling asleep on their preschool desks.

*Buying toys for 2 year olds that are labeled for older children.

I learned this after some preschool directors called me after I wrote several weeks ago about how academic kindergarten had become--complete with test prep and homework but no recess.

These directors wanted to discuss the worsening anxiety they see in preschool parents who see that children are being required to read and write in kindergarten and want to make sure little Johnny and Joanie stay on track--whether or not they are developmentally ready (and lots aren't).

“It’s not that we don’t think learning is important,” said Mara Bier, director of the Early Childhood Development Area of the Rockville, Md.,-based Partnership for Jewish Life and Learning. “We do. Where we disagree is how that is achieved.”

There is solid research on the benefits of well-designed play that teaches kids to ask questions and find their own answers. Unknowing parents see their kids playing at a water table and think they are wasting their time.

“I don’t blame the parents,” said one preschool program director. “In public school kindergarten, the kids better hit the ground running. These pishers are supposed to write 3- and 4-word sentences.”

The reason for all of this is "No Child Left Behind," which has pushed down curriculum into the earliest grades and put the focus on high-stakes standardized tests that start as early as third grade.

That’s why the preschool directors I spoke with (who did not want to be identified because, obviously, they didn’t want their students’ parents upset) said they have great sympathy for the parents.

“I’ve had parents sit and agree with me,” said one. “They say, ‘I know you are right but I can’t do it.’ ”

What they “can’t do” is stop pushing so hard that they kill the joy of learning in their child before second grade.

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