Are we getting Kindy wrong?

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This is my latest contribution to the Generation Next Newsletter.

I read an article a week ago in Sydney’s Sunday Telegraph that really hit a nerve. The article reported that ‘Fearful parents are unnecessarily sending pre-schoolers to early learning classes to give them an academic edge,’ and that ‘Some schools and teachers are also contributing to a sense that children are “failing” kindergarten, and becoming anxious about how they would perform in NAPLAN tests, which begin in Year 3.’

The article added that there has been a proliferation of early learning centres aimed at getting pre-schoolers ready for the pressures of kindergarten.

Read that last sentence again: “the pressures of kindergarten

Make no mistake these “pressures” are real. I have a colleague who is undertaking research to address “school readiness” and there is mounting evidence to suggest we are sending our kids to school at too early an age.

Where is this pressure coming from? The government? NAPLAN? Parents? The economy? I don’t know there is one answer, but I do know that we should never be speaking of the pressures of kindergarten.

Of course, Kindergarten should be a time of increased stimulation, independence inspiration and learning, but it would be pertinent to consider the origin of the word kindergarten.

It was created by the German-born Educationalist, Friedrich Froebel (1782-1852). Kindergarten in Froebel’s vision meant both ‘a garden for children’, where children meet with environment and also ‘a garden of children’, where they play together and express themselves in a smaller garden world by means of play with their age group.

He believed that “children are like tiny flowers; they are varied and need care, but each is beautiful alone and glorious when seen in the community of peers.”

I do wonder what Froebel would make of all this talk about testing and pressure?

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