5 Things Children Learn at Preschool That Are a Waste of Time and Not Developmentally Appropriate

Updated on March 26, 2018
letstalkabouteduc profile image

I'm a credentialed teacher with a master's degree in special education. I spent many years teaching preschool and kindergarten.

Calendar, craft projects, teacher-directed lessons, worksheets, and "letter of the week"

They're part of a typical preschool schedule, and parents get easily impressed by them. However, research shows they're largely a waste of time and sometimes even detrimental to children.

Preschool teachers co-opt strategies from their elementary school counterparts even though they're developmentally inappropriate for young children. Little kids need hands-on activities.
Preschool teachers co-opt strategies from their elementary school counterparts even though they're developmentally inappropriate for young children. Little kids need hands-on activities. | Source

1. The Calendar

Most preschool classrooms have a cozy spot where the teacher sits in a chair and the students gather on the rug for circle time. The focal point is typically a gigantic calendar, intended to help the children learn about the days of the week, the months of the years, and concepts of time (yesterday, today, and tomorrow). The teacher says with over-the-top enthusiasm: “Okay, class, yesterday was Monday. Today is Tuesday. What will tomorrow be?” Although they've been doing this same routine for months, the kids look at her blankly as if she asked them how to solve global warming. Someone calls out Sunday. Another guesses Friday. A third timidly suggests Saturday. Running out of days, someone finally announces Wednesday. The teacher then delightfully proclaims,Correct! as if that kid were some kind of genius.

Like many other activities in preschools today, calendar time is developmentally inappropriate—an idea co-opted from elementary schools and forced upon children too young to handle it. According to the NAEYC (National Association for the Education of Young Children), there is little evidence to suggest calendar activities are meaningful for children below the first grade. That's because children need to mature before they truly understand the concept of time. Think of a young child on a long road time, constantly asking, "Are we there yet?" His parents reply, "Two hours" or "twenty more minutes" or "less than an hour" but no answer satisfies. That's because those measures of time are utterly insignificant to him.

Furthermore, while calendar time introduces early math concepts (counting, patterning, sequencing), experts in early childhood education argue that kids learn them more efficiently when handling concrete materials. In "Calendar Time for Young Children: Good Intentions Gone Awry," the authors agree that math is better taught in small groups so children can explore with manipulatives such as Unifix cubes, geoboards, and pattern blocks. When a skilled teacher guides kids— asking questions and prompting exploration—students get far more from the experience than when they do whole group calendar time.

2. Craft Projects

Pinterest, the on-line site of images, has influenced preschool education in a wholly negative way with its multitude of eye-catching craft projects for kids. Teachers— most with no background in arts education—look at the site to find over-the-top ideas that will impress parents. Unfortunately, these projects do nothing to foster children's creativity, independence, and decision-making. Kids follow their teacher's instructions in a step-by-step way—trying to duplicate her perfect sample. In the end, everybody's project looks the same: neat, tidy, and uninspired.

At an early age, preschool children are getting all the wrong ideas about art. They come to understand that the finished product is most important, not the process of getting there. Uniformity gets celebrated above originality. While young children with limited vocabularies once expressed themselves through paintings and drawings, they're now discouraged from doing so. They never have the chance to discover the joy of art. As they grow older, they're likely to proclaim, “I hate art. I'm no good at it!” They compare their work to others and think it comes up short. They've never learned to enjoy art as a fun, relaxing, and expressive pursuit.

A thoughtful and well-educated preschool teacher knows how important open-ended art is in the classroom.Open-ended art includes painting at the easel, drawing, coloring, molding with clay, and printmaking. These activities not only stimulate a child's imagination, they promote fine motor skills. They build strong hand and finger muscles so the youngster is ready to hold pencils and scissors correctly when she starts elementary school.

The creative process is relaxing, stimulating, and fun. Kids should want to do art. With teacher-directed art projects, children get robbed of their creativity and initiative.
The creative process is relaxing, stimulating, and fun. Kids should want to do art. With teacher-directed art projects, children get robbed of their creativity and initiative. | Source

3. Teacher-Directed Lessons

Preschools were once the place for playing, socializing, creating, exploring, and discovering. Teachers acted as facilitators, making sure everyone was safe, happy, and busy. But now the push for academic rigor has infiltrated this once sacred domain, corrupting it with practices that are unsuitable for 4 and 5-year-olds.

Teachers no longer ask the relevant question, “Is this developmentally appropriate?” Instead, they borrow what's en vogue at elementary schools and twist, pound, and shape it into something they can use with little kids—no matter how ridiculous. Teacher-directed lessons have become more prevalent than child-centered activities. Kids must sit quietly and listen at Circle Time while the teacher offers up instruction on famous artists, scientific principles, foreign countries, and so on.

At a young age, children are given the message that knowledge comes from outside themselves. They're not given opportunities to see something that intrigues them and find out more about it on their own. This is the most empowering learning, not the kind that makes them totally dependent upon an adult.

Why Intellectual Goals Are Far More Important Than Academic Achievement

4. Worksheets

Nothing seems to impress uninformed parents more than worksheets. They have it in their heads that paper-pencil tasks are real learning. The rest of it—painting at the easel, digging in the sandbox, riding tricycles—all seems frivolous and hardly worth the cost of tuition. When watching children play, they ask impatiently, “Why isn't the teacher teaching them anything?”

Preschool owners must keep their clients satisfied. Therefore, too many of them give in to parental demands for worksheets. It doesn't matter if they're for handwriting, math, reading, or phonics. If kids are sitting quietly at tables writing on them, these parents feel real learning is taking place. The owners know research doesn't support this. They know worksheets aren't developmentally appropriate. But they want to stay in business so they go with the flow, even though the children suffer.

Strong, knowledgeable, and passionate owners articulate to moms and dads how young children learn best. They have the latest research at their disposal that supports active learning – playing, exploring, and doing. The narrow isolated skills taught in worksheets is nothing compared to all that is learned in a stimulating classroom filled with curious peers and an encouraging teacher.

Parents get overly enamored by workbooks and other paper-pencil tasks. Children in preschool need to learn by doing, not by sitting and writing. Paper-pencil tasks mean little to young children. They first need to discover the world off the page!
Parents get overly enamored by workbooks and other paper-pencil tasks. Children in preschool need to learn by doing, not by sitting and writing. Paper-pencil tasks mean little to young children. They first need to discover the world off the page! | Source

5. Letter of the Week

Celebrating one letter per week is the traditional way preschool teachers present the alphabet. During the first week of school, “A” gets all the attention. The students bring items from home that start with the letter such as an apron or an apple. The class makes an art project of an alligator or an ape. They practice writing “A” in their workbooks. The process is slow, methodical, and tedious and not the best way for young children to learn.

Research shows the Letter of the Week approach is ineffective because, when children reach “Z,” 26 long weeks have passed and the beginning letters have long been forgotten. Experts say learning letters should get integrated into the day, not taught in isolation. Programs such as Zoo-phonics have youngsters interacting with sounds and letters by dancing, singing, and playing games. Kids do a-z every day in a fun and developmentally appropriate way.

A Wonderful Book About Letting Kids Be Kids

Taking Back Childhood: A Proven Roadmap for Raising Confident, Creative, Compassionate Kids
Taking Back Childhood: A Proven Roadmap for Raising Confident, Creative, Compassionate Kids

As a former preschool and kindergarten teacher, I can't say enough wonderful things about this book. We need Nancy Carlsson-Paige as a voice of reason, advocating for our youngest learners. Too many experts in early childhood education have gotten silenced in our country's push for academic rigor. Nancy does a fantastic job of explaining why kids need more imaginative play and down-time and fewer teacher-directed lessons. I highly recommend this book for parents looking for the right preschool.

 

Questions & Answers

  • My daughter was so bored during calendar time at preschool and just zoned out. Then I was shocked to see that she had to endure pretty much the same calendar routine in kindergarten and first grade. What's with all the focus on the calendar?

    I noticed the same phenomenon as you with both my sons—teachers doing basically the same calendar routine in preschool, kindergarten, first grade, and second. This occurs because preschool and kindergarten teachers co-opt the elementary school curriculum and twist, pound, and mold it to use with their young students. Taking lessons that are designed for older kids and thrusting them upon those who aren't ready is not only a waste of precious time in preschool, but is potentially harmful and definitely outside the realm of what's considered developmentally appropriate. Too many parents get easily impressed by calendar activities in preschool (thinking their kids are getting “advanced” instruction) when, in reality, time could be much better spent on playing, exploring, and interacting.

    Decades of research shows that little children learn differently than older ones, and that's why we have the field of early childhood education. Their brains are wired for sensory experiences, hands-on exploration, and kinesthetic learning. Sitting at circle time as the teacher drones on about numerals and patterns on the calendar is no benefit to them. Trying to make sense of time concepts such as yesterday, today, and tomorrow causes them unnecessary confusion, stress, and frustration.

    I recently visited a top-notch preschool where an astute teacher did an amazing thing. After years of dutifully doing the calendar every morning with her class, she looked at the little faces before her and saw zombies. She had always loved doing the calendar (in fact, it was her favorite part of being a preschool teacher) but at that moment she saw how boring it was for the kids. After school that day she took down her gigantic calendar and gathered up all her calendar supplies.

    The next week when her students came to school there was, much to their delight, a new dramatic play area in the corner—a classroom! It included a desk, chairs, writing materials, a chalkboard and, yes, that enormous calendar and all the calendar supplies. From that day forward, the children would pretend to be teachers. Instead of watching her go through the days of the week, the numerals, and the patterns, they got to do it by interacting with the materials themselves, not just sitting there and watching. It was preschool education at its very best!

© 2016 McKenna Meyers

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • letstalkabouteduc profile imageAUTHOR

      McKenna Meyers 

      2 months ago from Bend, OR

      Oh, Divya, I wish you and I could join our voices on the highest mountaintop and shout to all parents of preschoolers: "Worksheets are not developmentally appropriate!" Yet, even if we did that, there would still be moms and dads who see paper-pencil tasks as "true learning" and insist on it for their kids (the same can be said for any so-called "educational" program on the computer).

      My 4-year-old neighbor attends a big-name tutoring club once a week, and I recently took a peek at her homework. It was page after page of tedious phonics work (e.g. Circle the pictures that begin with B). She absolutely hates doing it so her mom bribes her. They would get a much better result by just cuddling and reading Dr. Seuss books, but Mom is too afraid that her daughter won't be ready for kindergarten and will be placed in the low reading group like her older sister was. It's a sad state of affairs for little kids!

    • letstalkabouteduc profile imageAUTHOR

      McKenna Meyers 

      2 months ago from Bend, OR

      Thanks for your comments, Shreya. Calendar has become such a staple in preschool (and kindergarten) so it's necessary to question it. I visit dozens of preschools each year and watch kids zoning out during calendar time as teachers go through the paces: the days of the week, yesterday/today/tomorrow, the patterns, the numerals, and the counting (by 1's, 2's, and 5's). It seems to get longer and longer!

      Clued-in teachers know that many kids get nothing from calendar because they're not developmentally ready to understand those concepts. Instead these clever educators have a calendar available for kids to explore during play time. The children love doing this, pretending to be teachers or office workers. This kind of hands-on experience is developmentally appropriate, stimulates the imagination, and is lots of fun. Kids who are ready still learn about numerals, patterns, and counting. It's hard for some teachers to let go of their calendar routine because they love doing it so, but this approach serves the children so much more!

    • profile image

      Divya 

      2 months ago

      It's an insightful read. The part about the calendar is quite surprising. It's time to unlearn and relearn certain things. At the same time, it's important for parents (especially those who send their children to language and math classes) to know and understand worksheets aren't developmentally appropriate.

    • profile image

      Shreya Pandya 

      2 months ago

      This article is an eye-opener (calendar). I totally agree that experiential learning and authentic investigation advances intellectual capabilities of the students.

    • letstalkabouteduc profile imageAUTHOR

      McKenna Meyers 

      4 months ago from Bend, OR

      Christine, you sound like a fabulous teacher and your students are lucky to have you. Your enthusiasm for your job flies off the page as I read your words. I love what you said about providing opportunities for children but not forcing them (that's a recipe for making them dislike that particular activity). I think so many parents today worry there's something wrong with their child if she can't sit still and listen at circle time. Parents are hyper-focused on "preparing" kids for kindergarten. Experienced teachers like you ease their minds and help them see that this behavior is normal. Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts and your love for teaching preschool!

    • profile image

      Christine 

      4 months ago

      I work in a pre-K class. I have worked/played with children for over twenty years and oh my are children smart these days. I have children who love circle time and project time. They love to learn new things and I provide that for them. I would never want to be in a class that had no sort of introduction to learning about our world and how we live day to day. The majority of the kids understand calendar by mid year in my class. And it’s interesting that you then start to see them connecting the calendar to when they have their stay home days or when they are going on vacation or when a friend is coming back to school, and when their swim lesson is. There is endless opportunities to learn with the calendar. It represents the passage of time. It sparks up conversations about so many topics. I will never underestimate a child’s ability to comprehend calendar. Of course you may have children not quite understand but that’s ok they are involved in other parts of the calendar and conversation. Calendar will never be a waste of time in my classroom unless the children show me otherwise. With art, children at 4-5 LOVE producing product as well as open ended. They are provided with the materials and then create on their own. It’s amazing to see what they create and their confidence is so boosted. No ones art is the same ever. But they always want to make something whether it’s product or not. No ones judged because they are always reminded it’s their own vision, their own creativity. And getting children involved in experiments with science is never too much. They thrive on cause and effect and LOVE to find out The WHY of everything. Children need more these days they crave it and I see it everyday. Play is a huge part of the day, but the small part of instruction is soooo beneficial. It also teaches children self regulation when you have some structure within the day, especially circle time where there is some sitting involved as well as movement. Out of twenty kids their may be one or two who just can’t handle it at times and they are never made to stay. Children should be offered opportunities but never FORCED to do anything. That would be considered INAPPROPRIATE and not developmental. I love my job! I love children!

    • letstalkabouteduc profile imageAUTHOR

      McKenna Meyers 

      4 months ago from Bend, OR

      Thanks, Jessica! It's very sad that DAP, which is basically common sense and respecting and celebrating kids at their stage of development, needs a public awareness campaign. We have really gone far adrift from what our children deserve. I'll have to give some consideration to your suggestions!

    • profile image

      Jessica 

      4 months ago

      Hi McKenna! Man, you hit the big ones and put it really well! Have you thought about somehow turning this into an info-graphic or a series of memes? I would love to have some things mocking these elements as ridiculous to share across social media, which seems to be the way ideas spread these days. I feel like DAP needs a Public Awareness campaign to change the tide - make me some cartoons I can share! ;)

    • profile image

      Nicole Stone 

      5 months ago

      Thanks for the very well stated comment McKenna! All of my 5 year olds that move onto Kindergarten are ready. They know their letters and sounds and pass the entrance exams with flying colors. I have worked in different programs for over 30 years, and I LOVE my job. Watching the children "experience" new things is amazing, but hearing them giggle when they are getting the subject all together is the very best!

    • letstalkabouteduc profile imageAUTHOR

      McKenna Meyers 

      5 months ago from Bend, OR

      Beautifully said, Sandra! I'm not going to argue with an early childhood educator of 42 years. That's truly amazing.

    • profile image

      Sandra Brown Turner 

      5 months ago

      I have read all of this article three times. As an early educator for 42 years, I mostly agree with the author's premises. I would like to weigh in on the concept of circle time.

      Long, drawn out circle times are indeed not DAP. However, from a social development perspective, children need to feel they are part of the whole, to offer up ideas and thoughts that their peers can hear, to pose questions for consideration. It is during circle time that projects emerge for further development.

      From a cognitive development perspective, circle time offers children a beginning of the day, a time to work, and closure to process about the day - what was explored, what was discovered, what may we do tomorrow. REggio Emilia inspired teachers call this 'provocione.'

      So let's not throw circle time away, let's bring it back into perspective by making it a child-centered, interest peeking, planning time.

    • letstalkabouteduc profile imageAUTHOR

      McKenna Meyers 

      5 months ago from Bend, OR

      I can certainly understand your frustration, Nicole. But, I also see the parents' point of view as they hear from friends and family how kindergarten has changed, is academically rigorous, and children must be prepared. The Common Core standards in kindergarten have taken away so much play and creativity and have added a long checklist of skills, on-going assessments, and less hands-on learning. It takes a strong and well-informed parent to choose a play-based preschool and resist societal pressures for something academic.

      I would stick to your guns and present your school as an alternative to those that have long circle times, teacher-directed lessons, and workbooks. Tell parents that you do not see preschool as a time to get youngsters ready for kindergarten. Instead, you see it as a unique time when kids' brains are wired to learn from experiences, not paper-pencil tasks. It's your philosophy that learning through play is best that makes the difference. While other preschools try to offer whatever they think parents want (Chinese, yoga, STEM), your program is backed up by developmental psychologists, early childhood experts, and experienced teachers. Hold firm and good luck!

    • profile image

      Nicole Stone 

      5 months ago

      I am a director of a "play-based" preschool and totally and completely stand behind how we do things. The strange part for me is that the parents are constantly pulling their kids for something more "academic" program. We introduce all subjects during our day and our kids love being here. It is the PARENTS that want us to change. Educating them about play seems to move right past them. It is so frustrating. I do bulletin boards on why scissor skills are important and other informational boards to help people realize, but nothing seems to work! Any Ideas to stop losing business to this topic?

    • letstalkabouteduc profile imageAUTHOR

      McKenna Meyers 

      5 months ago from Bend, OR

      Yes, Jay, adjusting to people and activities away from home is a goal of preschool and a good one. We once focused on the affective realm in early childhood education: getting kids to feel confident in different situations, excited about learning, and happy to discover new things. But, with today's attention on preparing kids academically for kindergarten, the affective realm has been marginalized and we're pushing cognitive development with longer circle times, more teacher-directed lessons, more assessments, and less play and creativity. The repercussions of this are devastating.

      Young children are actually getting stressed out at preschool and that impairs their learning far into the future. A stressed out learner is not an efficient learner. About 10-15 years ago, there was a movement in many parts of the country (mostly poor inner-city schools) to reduce or even eliminate recess because more "academic minutes" were needed. Well, a lot of misguided people (not teachers) thought that was a great solution, but it wasn't. We wound up with childhood obesity issues, anxious and depressed kids, and restless students who needed outdoor breaks for their mental and emotional well-being.

    • profile image

      Jay Knight 

      5 months ago

      Since I don't have any letters before or after my name, this will probably go unnoticed. I thought that the main objective for pre school was not in it's self to teach but more so the kids could adjust being away from their parents and away from home. The idea of teaching them days of week, or crafts is secondary to the child adjusting to being with other kids he/she don't know or have met before and adjusting them to the element of time, when you do certain things. All of that will be held on to by the child, but the necessarily will not correlate it with the proper instant. It will afford the child the opportunity to learn different things that have not a real bearing on them being there, but something they can recall later on in grade school, while all the time the crafts , days of week, are teaching them they can function being away from home and parents, and being surrounded by strangers, which in reality becomes new friends. When they enter grade school the fear of being away from home or parents has greatly decreased. You have to accept what is being done in pre school for the real reason it is there.

    • letstalkabouteduc profile imageAUTHOR

      McKenna Meyers 

      5 months ago from Bend, OR

      Perfectly said, Susan, from the voice of experience. On the bright side, there is a movement toward "outdoor schools" in the U.S. with the children spending the majority of their time in nature -- playing, exploring, and building. Finland has wonderful schools, the envy of the world, and they do not emphasize academics in the early years. Their focus is on the overall well-being of the child and spending time outside is a big part of that.

    • profile image

      Susan Mccarroll 

      5 months ago

      I was a preschool for 35 years

      Take the children outside

      Learning about nature ,climbing a tree and catching some bugs is so much more important than circle time ,calendars etc

      Let them get some fresh air! Let then scream and run

      Lay them down and have them imagine things that.clouds can be

      They are 3 and 4

      There is plenty of time to learn what will be required of them later

    • profile image

      Rosy M 

      5 months ago

      I should’ve stop reading as soon as I saw NAEYC. Come and spend sometime in an actual classroom. You’ll learn the reasons why we do certain activities. :)

    • letstalkabouteduc profile imageAUTHOR

      McKenna Meyers 

      5 months ago from Bend, OR

      Cheryl, your voice of reason and experience speaks loudly. I so agree with you. My son attended a fantastic co-op preschool and his teacher spent most of the day walking around and helping the children solve conflicts with the all-powerful "how." How can everyone help to build that sand castle? How can you two share the blocks and make that tower higher? How can you all work together and clean up that area?

      She was not the source of all knowledge; she was a facilitator who got the kids thinking, solving problems, and acting cooperatively. She wasn't at a table drilling kids on the alphabet or listening to them count to 100. She was constantly moving, guiding, and keeping things running smoothly. She was amazing.

    • letstalkabouteduc profile imageAUTHOR

      McKenna Meyers 

      5 months ago from Bend, OR

      Greg, we have more information about neuroscience and how young children learn best than ever before so it's maddening when we do the opposite. Students in early childhood education are learning about cognitive development (emotional and social, too) at college and then are made to do other in the real world. We know the brains of young learners are highly receptive to experiences (more so than older kids and adults) and that's why hands-on learning, play, and exploration are key. We also know that stress on young children hinders their learning and may have long-term negative consequences. Kids don't need stress-inducing experiences such as long circle times, assessments, little play, and a lack of outdoor time.

    • letstalkabouteduc profile imageAUTHOR

      McKenna Meyers 

      5 months ago from Bend, OR

      I'm so glad you can use this, Carey. Teachers who took early childhood education classes become so disillusioned when they start working at a preschool and are told to do things in direct opposition to what they learned at college. I worked for an owner who had no background in early childhood education. She was a former first grade teacher who just adapted the elementary school curriculum for preschool. Doesn't work! My fellow teachers and I knew more than she did about early learners, but she was the boss so we had workbooks, calendar, circle time, and all the other expected activities that do little to benefit the kids. The parents were impressed, though!

    • letstalkabouteduc profile imageAUTHOR

      McKenna Meyers 

      5 months ago from Bend, OR

      Thanks, Jennifer. I'm glad it took off, too. I think parents and teachers are seeing that we're moving in the wrong direction in early childhood education and need to make some changes. Preschool teachers are some of the best people in the world and want to do what's best for the kids (they're not in it for the money)! We've taken so much power from them (all teachers, really) and have given it to people who know nothing about early learning. A correction is long overdue.

    • profile image

      Cheryl 

      5 months ago

      As a 40 year nursery school teacher veteran,I agree with this article.

      What we need to focus on is social emotional development and conflict resolution.

      There is more of a focus on the cognitive development than everyday getting along with each other .I have seen recurring aggression via biting,hitting,spitting and kicking among 3,4,5 year olds.These are the issues which need to be addressed.The cognitive development is easy and can be integrated into the day while intervening in conflictvresolution and possibly family dynamics is much more difficult.

    • profile image

      Tina Johnson 

      5 months ago

      Could we please quit calling it day care it gives it a false content to people and parents who does not realize what goes on behind the scenes. It is Child Development. Child Development Learning Centers.

    • profile image

      Greg 

      5 months ago

      I recall something called Cognative Development taught in our Education Psychology classes at college. It didn't mean much to me until I saw it (or a lack of it) in a real classroom of children.

      Did they quit teaching it?

    • profile image

      Carey 

      5 months ago

      This is SO timely for me! I’m an early childhood teacher coach, and working so hard to get my childcare teachers - and (both more importantly and MORE difficult) the directors to understand why they need to give up the worksheets. I cannot wait to send this to all of my teachers and directors. Thank you!

    • Jennifer Mugrage profile image

      Jennifer Mugrage 

      5 months ago from Columbus, Ohio

      Glad to see this Hub is taking off!

    • letstalkabouteduc profile imageAUTHOR

      McKenna Meyers 

      5 months ago from Bend, OR

      Rharha, thanks so much for sharing. It's good to know you folks in Canada saw the folly of academic rigor in preschool and moved back to a common sense research-based approach. We in the United States are insisting on going against all the evidence that shows play, pretend, hands-on learning, and exploration is best. When will we ever learn? Finland's schools are a model of excellence and they don't have structured lessons until age 7.

    • letstalkabouteduc profile imageAUTHOR

      McKenna Meyers 

      5 months ago from Bend, OR

      Thanks, Ann, for your comments. Preschool and kindergarten teachers should ban together and say, "Early education is unique. We're about giving kids a developmentally appropriate experience with play, pretend, hands-on learning, exploration, and socialization. We are not about getting kids ready for the following years. We are not just the first step on the assembly line of education."

      Unfortunately, this is not happening, but the opposite occurs. First grade teachers blame kindergarten teachers for not getting the students ready. Kindergarten teachers blame preschool teachers and so on. Talented and experienced teachers are thought to be old-fashioned because they don't want to go along with the push-down curriculum and want to adhere to what experts in early childhood education recommend.

    • letstalkabouteduc profile imageAUTHOR

      McKenna Meyers 

      5 months ago from Bend, OR

      Kittay, thanks for sharing your experiences with your students. You are so right about politicians/administrators taking away autonomy from teachers and trying to make learning one-size-fits-all. That's why so many talented teachers have left the profession.

      There are huge differences in children; they don't all learn the same things at the same time, and good, experienced educators know this. Parents get needlessly worried when their child is behind, thinking there's something wrong with her when she's just reflecting individual differences among kids. Best of everything to you and your class!

    • letstalkabouteduc profile imageAUTHOR

      McKenna Meyers 

      5 months ago from Bend, OR

      I'm glad this will come in handy when parents ask you about worksheets. Believe me, I feel your pain! I also feel the anxiety that many preschool parents have, knowing so much is expected of their kids in kindergarten.

      There's a kindergarten in our town where the kids come in knowing how to read. Parents who want to send their kids to it realize this is the expectation and they better get them reading. There's no research that shows early reading has any long-term benefits and the emphasis on it takes away opportunities for hands-on learning, exploration, socializing, and play.

    • profile image

      Rharha74 

      5 months ago

      This is all true I am a RECE (Registered Early Childhood Educator.) and where I am from we haven't beem doing this for years (almost two decades). I don't lnow where this is from, but in Ontario Canada the Kindergartens are moving away from these approached because they do noy effectivly educate young children.Open ended materials, loose parts, time and space to be creative, problem solve, test theories, learn and use life skills, be independent, etc, etc. are much more effective and allow the child to learn at his/her own pace and developmental stage. Not all children of one age are at the same place in their development. I think we should research and embrace this style of learning in order to offer our xhildren the best start they can have!

    • letstalkabouteduc profile imageAUTHOR

      McKenna Meyers 

      5 months ago from Bend, OR

      Nancy, I love the "dead man test" and it's more appropriate now than ever before. Our children are facing a job market full of challenges, and they need to be both critical and creative thinkers. Automation is eliminating so many positions, and the worker of tomorrow needs to have a thirst for knowledge, be flexible, and adapt. All the things we once emphasized in preschool -- working together, solving problems, and coming up with new ideas -- are what workers of the future need the most.

    • letstalkabouteduc profile imageAUTHOR

      McKenna Meyers 

      5 months ago from Bend, OR

      I salute you, NrsM. You are my hero and I wish I could give parents of preschoolers your name and number! Unfortunately, so many conscientious and knowledgeable teachers like you have left the profession, unwilling to compromise what they know is best for kids. Bravo to you for opening your own preschool. Now you have like-minded parents who believe in the power of play. That's rare these days.

    • profile image

      Ann 

      5 months ago

      Well that is fine and good,however,it’s not reality. So instead of picking out the preschool classroom let’s look at kindergarten. Also,it’s exposure to the children . If done correctly circle time can be appropriatel

    • profile image

      kittay 

      5 months ago

      I would like to agree with all of this but as someone stated already. Some good does come from showing these things you're talking about. What if you have a class of kids who LIKE doing worksheets? I have 5 kids going to Kinder. this year that are already reading from doing worksheets. Sight words on worksheets to learn sounding out and reading that I've used for months now.

      Also My kids use to learn through Dramatic play but state came in and told us " NO MORE DRESS UP " because kids can't put on the same clothes a friend just had on... Someone is always trying to tell teachers what they need to do or how to teach. I have 13 kids and not every kid is the same or class. Do what works for you and your class. How about we write things about what state is taking away from hard working under paid preschools. You don't have be a "well-educated preschool teacher" to inspire young souls and teach.

      Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people.

    • letstalkabouteduc profile imageAUTHOR

      McKenna Meyers 

      5 months ago from Bend, OR

      Thanks for sharing, Schacter!

    • letstalkabouteduc profile imageAUTHOR

      McKenna Meyers 

      5 months ago from Bend, OR

      Thanks, Brenda, for sharing your thoughts. Yes, preschool children need practice at sitting still for short periods while listening to the teacher. However, because of the push-down curriculum, they are now expected to sit and listen for long periods of instruction. Parents and teachers are extremely concerned now about getting kids ready for kindergarten. I strongly believe preschool is a time for play, pretend, socialization, and creativity. The goal of it should not be getting kids ready for kindergarten. It should be about fun and developing positive feelings about school and learning.

    • letstalkabouteduc profile imageAUTHOR

      McKenna Meyers 

      5 months ago from Bend, OR

      Thanks, Rene. There's a huge turn-over rate in early childhood education because the pay is low and the conditions often aren't great. That's why owners/directors need to offer training/classes on a regular basis to their teachers. Unfortunately, too many of them are just responding to the "push-down" curriculum in elementary schools with children learning more at earlier ages. They take the elementary school lessons and try to make them work with the little ones. This is not what preschoolers need. That's why it's crucial to have strong owners/directors who won't cave to the pressure for academic rigor and can articulate the importance of play.

    • profile image

      Circle time, calendar, craft projects, and worksheets: 

      5 months ago

      Is circle time one of the 5? I don't think you intended it to be. You didn't list it as one of the 5 either. "Circle time, calendar, craft projects, and worksheets".

      Printed this to pull out when the thousandth person asks me if I teach my PK kids to read and do math. And then they go on to say, "You mean you don't give worksheets? How will they ever be ready for kindergarten."

    • letstalkabouteduc profile imageAUTHOR

      McKenna Meyers 

      5 months ago from Bend, OR

      Thanks, Christa. The organization, "Defending the Early Years," has a website that's full of wonderful information, advocating for play-based learning. Two experts in the field, Nancy Carlsson-Paige and Diane Levin write blogs for it. Nancy has co-authored a terrific article entitled "Reading Instruction in Kindergarten: Little to Gain and Much to Lose" that's there and is definitely worth reading.

    • letstalkabouteduc profile imageAUTHOR

      McKenna Meyers 

      5 months ago from Bend, OR

      Thanks, Holly. You are so right. Studies show that preschool children in wealthier areas are still largely getting the play, socialization, and hands-on experiences they need. It's children in poor urban areas that are not getting enough outside time, exploration, and play. They are getting too many structured lessons, assessments, and worksheets. They're getting turned off to school at an early age and may never recover from it. Some of these little ones even get suspended from preschool for bad behavior (bad behavior meaning they can't sit still and listen because they're normal kids)!

    • letstalkabouteduc profile imageAUTHOR

      McKenna Meyers 

      5 months ago from Bend, OR

      Thanks, Rika, for sharing your thoughts and experiences. I chuckle (and then feel sad) when I see job listings for "infant teachers." Babies don't need teachers; they need loving and attentive parents and caregivers. They need to be held, fed, diapered, and given tummy time. Yes, they benefit from being read to, but they're not learning new vocabulary and getting any meaning from it. It's all in the affective realm as the love, communication, and physical contact creates a loving connection with books. Preschool is the same.

      When we studied to become early childhood educators in college and grad school, our professors never told us young children need longer circle times, teacher-directed lessons, and craft projects. No, we read and heard from experts in the field about the value of play, the importance of hands-on learning, the need for creativity, exploration, and socialization. Then, in the real world of today, we're asked to do the opposite. Preschool teachers are now under so much pressure to prepare students for kindergarten, and I think that's insane. Preschool is a unique time and shouldn't be just another year of a youngster's academic journey. That's why I recommend preschools that have strong philosophies: Montessori, Waldorf, and play-based co-ops.

    • profile image

      Nancy Hull 

      5 months ago

      I worked in special ed. I had a prof who use to say "Before you teach something give it the Dead Man test.If a dead man can do it don't waste your time teaching it." The best example was sitting still at circle time or at a desk.

    • profile image

      NrsM 

      5 months ago

      I love everything about this article!!!! As a preschool teacher, I opened up my own preschool because I wanted to stop comforming to methodology I didn’t believe in! My preschool is play-based, child directed, and they are free to explore our materials and be kids! My kids have strong hand and fine motor skills, they are free-thinking and creative and :gasp!: They CAN sit for a story even with all that freedom

    • profile image

      Schacter Yael 

      5 months ago

      Will share with parents

    • profile image

      brenda bennett 

      5 months ago

      I donot totally agree children need to be able sit some while discussing things around them just my thoughts

    • profile image

      Rene Molelekoa 

      5 months ago

      Thank you for so much for eye opening of what we teach out children. Change is good. We need to teach them to be good listeners. Our practitioners must under go training at all times.

    • profile image

      Christa 

      5 months ago

      Yes to all of your points!! Thank you for writing this! I work with Early Childhood teachers and have to address these exact issues daily. I'd love to share this with some, but I'd like to also back it with research. Do you happen to have links to any research to back these points? I know it's out there because that's why this is spot on! It's research proven!

    • profile image

      Holly 

      5 months ago

      Very good article. I am of this same mindset that children need to learn through play and not through flashcards and worksheets.

    • profile image

      Rika Whelan 

      5 months ago

      I am an Early Childhood Teacher and I completely disagree with you!

      1. The Calendar: this is an introduction to everything you said they learn. They might not be ready to learn yet, but they still need an inteoduction to it! Schools rely on the fact that preschools introduce these topics to children so that when they go to big school it isn't all new to them.

      2. Crafts, completely agree about product vs process, but when children go to school, they all have to draw the vase of flowers in the front of the class, so teacher directed crafts can (sometimes, not all the time) guide the child as to how to use certain craft materials. How will you know what it is really made for or used for if no one ever teaches you?

      3. There should definitely be a balance between child-directed and teacher-led. Some activities during the day need to be led by the teacher and others child-led. Circle time is important as it prepares children for sitting on the mt and listening to their teacher. This is what they do at school. So should a child get free reign at preschool and then when they get to big school can't sit on the mat and listen to their friends because they were not prepared for that at preschool. The poor teacher has her hands full now doesn't she. She can't teach her curriculum because the child isn't school ready.

      4. Yes a 2 and 3 year old should definitely not be doing worksheets, but a 4 and 5 year old who will be going to school the following year should atleast be introduced to them. Atleast once a month or so (not more, I agree there). They need to be introduced to working on these so that when they get to school it is not completely new.

      5. Again, introduction is important!! When they get to school then it isn't all new.

    • letstalkabouteduc profile imageAUTHOR

      McKenna Meyers 

      5 months ago from Bend, OR

      Ms. Sarah, you sound like a caring and competent preschool teacher. My concern is that preschool and kindergarten have become just regular academic years in a long line of academic years; preschool is about getting ready for kindergarten, kindergarten is about getting ready for first grade, first grade is about getting ready for second grade and so on. The magic and uniqueness of early childhood education is eroding--the play, the friends, the cooking, the painting, the dressing up, and, most significantly, the imagination. I'm around preschool children all the time who don't know how to use their imaginations and pretend to be different people/ different animals in different situations. At such a young age, they can't pretend. They need adults (or, more typically, technology) to entertain them. As play decreases, we see more children struggle with depression and anxiety. Finland has an extremely successful school system and there they delay structured learning until 7. This push for "academic rigor" earlier and earlier is an American obsession. I love what Jean Piaget said, "When you teach a child something you take away forever his chance of discovering it for himself." Take care and thanks for leaving your thoughtful comments!

    • profile image

      Ms. Sarah 

      5 months ago

      This is an interesting article. It popped up in my Pinterest Feed. Thank you for taking the time to write it. I agree and disagree with what you are proposing. Have you heard of Get Set For School? I chose this curriculum for my K4 class because it includes play-based learning as well as introduces children to what they will be learning in K5. I also incorporate sensory tables for Science activities and design developmentally appropriate art projects to fit my letter of the week. I also include review of letters throughout the week. My K3 teacher uses the play-based learning aspects of Get Set For School and develops the rest of her curriculum to be developmentally appropriate which includes a letter of the week and circle time. The reason we both choose to have a letter of the week is because the kids really enjoy it and get excited about it and so that each letter is intentionally taught. The reason we have calendar time incorporated into our first morning circle time is to introduce the concept of time to our students since that concept is greatly overlooked in schools today. It's merely to introduce them, not to force them to figure it all out.

    • letstalkabouteduc profile imageAUTHOR

      McKenna Meyers 

      20 months ago from Bend, OR

      I agree, calculus-geometry. The children I know who became proficient in two languages have attended dual immersion schools. They spend the vast majority of their school day learning in the second language and are exposed to their native language at home. I'm amazed at how well these kids can not only speak two languages but write well in two languages.

    • letstalkabouteduc profile imageAUTHOR

      McKenna Meyers 

      20 months ago from Bend, OR

      I must say, DrMark, many countries have the US beat when it comes to making their citizens bilingual and even trilingual. The studies suggest young children learn a language quicker because they're fearless about speaking it -- not worried about mispronouncing words. That makes sense to me. However, it also makes sense to me that one must become proficient in her native language before taking on a second or third. Thanks for commenting!

    • profile image

      calculus-geometry 

      20 months ago

      I agree and disagree about point number 2. Children growing up in bilingual homes disprove the notion that you have to have mastered your mother tongue to acquire another language, or that early exposure to two languages hinders your ability to be fluent in either. In the US, people who have a native English speaking parent and a foreign parent usually end up speaking English like a native, and their foreign parent's language only semi-fluently but with perfect comprehension. Semi-lingualism in the toddler years corrects itself.

      The reason why pre-school level foreign language instruction fails to produce children fluent in another language is because there is no reinforcement of the second language in the home, in daily life, which is what you need in order to speak another language reasonably well and understand it when it is spoken to you. They get at most a few hours a week learning to say colors, numbers, hi, and bye in another language, usually from a teacher who isn't a native speaker.

    • DrMark1961 profile image

      Dr Mark 

      20 months ago from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil

      I am definitely no expert on this subject but I disagree with the studies that say that early adolesence is the best time to learn a foreign language. I think early childhood, preschool to be exact, is the best. We speak Arabic at home, but when my daughter started preschool in the US she picked up English in a few days, something a preschooler can do easily.

      As far as the risk of semi-lingualism? I have met plenty of Americans that are monolingual and are not able to use your language correctly. When we Brazilians learn a foreign language early it helps us to reinforce our first language, and I think the same goes for children in US preschools.

    • letstalkabouteduc profile imageAUTHOR

      McKenna Meyers 

      2 years ago from Bend, OR

      Jennifer, you are anything but lazy! Homeschooling takes a lot of energy, talent, and organization. Many parents know it's best but couldn't imagine making that kind of commitment.

      Your son is lucky to be able to explore art without judgment. When I taught preschool, the parents were so thrilled with the teacher-directed projects where the kids copied the teacher's sample (the owner made us do these). They'd often make sour faces when their children had a "messy" painting to take home. They had no idea what real kids art looked like. It made me sad.

    • Jennifer Mugrage profile image

      Jennifer Mugrage 

      2 years ago from Columbus, Ohio

      Amen and amen!

      I home school my three kids. This explains why my 4-year-old still has no clue about the days of the week. He does enjoy circle time, because we're all together and we sing.

      He has started doing drawings which are not recognizable to anyone but himself. But he takes great care over them, choosing a variety of colors. It's fun to watch.

      Yet I know some people probably think I'm a lazy parent because I have not enrolled him in preschool.

      Thanks for this well-informed article and the delightful pictures of preschoolers.

    • letstalkabouteduc profile imageAUTHOR

      McKenna Meyers 

      2 years ago from Bend, OR

      Yes. There's a lot to consider when selecting a preschool. Play-based is best.

    • RTalloni profile image

      RTalloni 

      2 years ago from the short journey

      These concepts are definitely worth pondering and using as a guide in preparing young children for school.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, wehavekids.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://wehavekids.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)