The Rigid Curriculum of Early Childhood Educators

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Our current education policy with its extreme focus on standardized testing has single handedly pushed an academic curriculum down into the kindergarten level and violating young children’s right to be children. The majority of kindergarten children today are spending more of their time in teacher directed activities, especially in literacy and math, and a minimal time for activities of their own choice. Teachers are being pressured to follow a prescriptive curriculum that is aligned with standardized test and the heavily didactic instruction is pushing exploratory play out of kindergarten. The notion that play is just a waste of time is compounded by the general assumption that the earlier students begin to grasp the basic elements of reading, such as letter recognition, phonemic awareness and blending , the more likely they will be successful in school. However, findings from many studies and research have proven just the opposite; expert believes that academic pressure in kindergarten contributes to failure, retention, and behavior problems.

Young children by nature are explorer beings and their exploratory play leads to discovery learning that promotes motivation, autonomy, independence and the development of creativity for problem solving skills. Early childhood educators are concerned that a young child’s enquiring mind might be hampered by a curriculum that is rigidly linked to standardized test, and that the learning process experienced by students will be compromised. According to Bruner (1977), learning should serve us in the future and that the knowledge students learned should create skills that can be transfer to later activities.

As it stands right now, the prescriptive curriculum will take students to a place w...

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...y or predatory. Their curiosity and vivid imagination guide them naturally into a world of science and math. Additionally children vocabulary changes while they are at play. The rich interactions between peers deepen their understanding with one another; they debate, negotiate, compromise and learn about collaboration while expanding their vocabularies. As the children get older they will revisit the same play but with different “eyes” and deeper understanding about the subject at hand. As their comprehension about a concept begins to strengthen the learning spiral begin to widen. The curriculum should focus on the development of understanding, not on the rote memorization of formulas. As Bruner stated (1977), a spiral curriculum is a curriculum in which learners repeat the study of a subject at different grade levels, gradually more difficult and in greater depth.
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