Ask Reading Kingdom: Do you think pre-k instruction is important for children’s education?

Absolutely! The early years of a child’s life represent a period of phenomenal learning in all areas of development—language, communication, motor skills, social skills, music, art, etc. Well-designed pre-k instruction can play a critical role in enhancing a child’s ability and enjoyment in all these areas. It also can offer components that are not readily available at home—thereby expanding a child’s horizons. And it achieves many of these goals through play which is a great way to learn. The founders of the early education movement such as Maria Montessori, Rudolph Steiner and John Dewey stressed these ideas and brought them to public attention. In recent years, however, there has been great concern about children’s poor performance in basic skills (i.e., reading and math). One of the consequences has been a shift in the pre-k curriculum from play to academic achievement. The result is that areas seen as outside of the traditional school curriculum (e.g., music and art) are often eliminated or reduced while areas linked to the curriculum (e.g., naming letters, recognizing written words) are emphasized. With careful planning, there is no reason that the two realms (wide ranging play and academic learning) cannot be merged. But in the push for high standardized test scores, that planning is not taking place. All too often, the current pre-k is a simplified and non-stimulating version of the primary grades.

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