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Kindergarten Looks Very Different Under Common Core

While days spent cutting out shapes and playing dress up may still be a part of Kindergarten in America, many five and six year olds are required to put away toys in favor of learning more sooner. Much of what Kindergarteners learn today was once saved for first grade.

"The students are learning concepts such as nouns and syllables and learning to count to 100 — topics that used to be covered later," according to a recent Sarasota Herald Tribune article.

The changes to classrooms are seen as ways to prepare students for what the Common Core standards demand of them.

The trend of pushing Kindergarteners to learn more advanced concepts is not found only in Florida but across many states. A decade ago or more, learning to read (beyond sounding out letters) was not a part of Kindergarten classes. Today, teachers continually assess their young students' reading levels. 

Some kindergarten classrooms have fewer and fewer toys and many first grade classrooms don't have any. Imaginative play is an important part of learning and children learn through trial and error and by playing with one another. Concepts that they'll later define as being basic physics knowledge or estimation or finding synonyms for items can be deeply explored through play.

While teachers and parents have been delighted in many cases that young children soak up new concepts and display competence in areas once thought beyond their grasp, there are opponents to this push for greater academic learning. Geralyn Bywater McLaughlin, a Boston preschool teacher and director of Defending the Early Years, reminds parents that there is a cost to the directed focus on moving up in reading levels and mastering early math facts and word problems.

“What they’re losing is the joy of learning and the feeling of confidence, the feeling I can do this, there is a place for me. When they’re being assessed in the first week of kindergarten and realizing they can’t do it, they get the message: I’m a failure,” Bywater McLaughlin told the Herald Tribune.

Read the full story.

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