In the Spring, 2008 issue of Rethinking Schools, I read a wonderful article by Peter Campbell, an educator who writes a blog called transformeducation.blogspot.com. His article vividly describes how time in pre-kindergarten classes is now spent on worksheets and traditional academics at the expense of play:
My daughter came home the other day in an incredibly grumpy mood. “How was school today?” I asked. “Terrible,” she answered. “Why? What happened?” “I want to play with my friends,” she said. “Don’t you get a chance to play with your friends?” “No,” she replied.
To be honest with you, it’s not so much the addition of academics that worries me as it is the subtraction of everything else. We seem to have lost the balance here. What are we getting rid of to make more time for all this skill building? Art, music, foreign languages and – yes – recess are being cut to make more time for skills, specifically math and reading skills. Starting in pre-K.
So I met with a district administrator at the Office of Teaching and Learning. I said to her, “Ideally for me, pre-K can be about play, socialization, and fun. I think we can introduce some early literacy and numeracy in Kindergarten, but let’s wait until first grade to get into formal instruction.” She replied, “Oh, no. That would be too late.” “Too late?” I asked. “Too late for what?”