Children are individuals with unique personalities, different abilities including learning strengths and preferences, diverse interests, and varied timetables for reaching developmental benchmarks.
Why is it then those who have developed the Common Core Standards for Kindergarten, in particular the reading standards, have chosen the “one size fits all” approach and have appeared to have totally disregarded the “developmentally appropriate” approach to Early Childhood Education?
Having earned a master’s degree with a concentration in Early Childhood Education in the mid- seventies, I have always considered “developmentally appropriate” the only way to educate young children, despite the prevalence of movements away from play–based programs to classrooms dominated by skill-based direct instruction.
My own children’s early educational experiences were also guided by my strong belief that children each learn at their own pace and in their own way and need the appropriately supportive environments to develop the abilities necessary to succeed in school and to promote their individual talents and interests.
This belief was totally born out with the startling differences my two children demonstrated – the verbally articulate child learning to read easily in Kindergarten and the artistic one struggling through all of elementary school to develop the comprehension skills needed to succeed academically. Fortunately, by working together with the school district, my husband and I were able to provide appropriate enrichment, support and intervention so each became “college ready” in his and her own way.
Research indicates that skills-based direct instruction does not achieve long lasting academic results and further, can be detrimental to children’s socio-emotional development if forced before they are developmentally ready.
Those engineering the Race to the Top seem to have disregarded that play, inquiry based learning, and opportunities for imagination – child initiated cognitive activity – promote the development of creativity, cooperation, critical thinking and problem solving, all of which are the 21st century skills that feature prominently in the Common Core.
The fact that not a single early childhood educator participated in the development of the Kindergarten Standards is appalling. Nor was the National Association for the Education of the Young Child (NAEYC), one of our major respected professional authorities in early childhood education, included.
Common Core has left early childhood out of Kindergarten thoughtlessly.