I agree wholeheartedly with you and so do most scholars in early childhood education and developmental psychology. As the US government pushed for better results in education (meaning higher standardized test scores), we got legislation such as No Child Left Behind and Common Core. Sadly, no group has been more negatively impacted by this than our youngest learners.
Shockingly, no K-3 classroom teachers and no early childhood professionals sat on the committee that wrote the Common Core standards for kindergarten through third grade. That’s why we wound up with such misguided goals that don’t address the unique needs of little ones. That’s why play was left out of the equation.
As a result, kindergarten classrooms turned from joyful places filled with play, creativity, movement, and social interaction into serious academic environments. Now, little kids must sit still in reading groups, are expected to acquire a long laundry list of skills, and must endure endless assessments of their abilities. When I visit kindergartens today, easels are hidden away in storage closets, puppet theaters have been donated to Goodwill, and play kitchens are a thing of the past.
Scholars in early childhood education say there is little evidence that suggests early reading and other academic skills have any long term benefits. However, there is a lot of proof that a lack of play results in higher rates of depression, anxiety, narcissism, obesity, and poor social skills.
You may want to read my article entitled: “What’s Wrong With Kindergarten in America and How We Can Fix It.”
Thanks for your question!