Yesterday the Alliance for Childhood released to the media a report it has taken them nine long months to create, according to Joan Almon, executive director of the organization. Written by Joan and Alliance program director Edward Miller, and with a foreword by David Elkind and an afterword by Vivian Gussin Paley, the report is titled "Crisis in Kindergarten: Why Children Need to Play in School." The report will be in print in a couple of weeks but has already been posted on the Alliance website, where you can read and comment on it. (To comment, click on the little dialog icons just above the paper clip icon on the left-hand side.)
A brief summary of the report on the Alliance home page reads:
Here are some of the statements found in the report:
- Accountability must go beyond standardized test scores and look at gains and losses in children's overall physical and mental health.
- Open-ended play is now a minor activity, or has been completely eliminated, in the kindergartens studied.
- Standardized testing has become an established part of kindergarten in spite of serious doubts about its validity in early childhood.
- A new study found that mothers are deeply concerned that their children are missing out on the joys of free play and natural exploration.
- "Faster is not better when it comes to early education." (Nancy Carlsson-Paige)
- There is a long-established view that kindergartens are quite different developmentally from first-graders and that their education should reflect that difference.
- Retention in kindergarten has increased even though research indicates that it does not help children and can do serious harm.
- Students who went to playful preschools had significantly fewer arrests and fewer years of special education for emotional impairment than similar students who went to a didactic, scripted-teaching preschool.
- Too many schools place a double burden on young children. First, they heighten their stress by demanding that they master material beyond their developmental level. Then they deprive children of their chief means of dealing with that stress -- creative play.