Ashley Sabo addressed the Red Clay Consolidated School District Board of Education tonight about a topic that is rising with grave concern to parents and educators all over the country. Rigor and kindergarten are like oil and water. They don’t belong together at all. She should run for public office!
In the essay, “All I really need to know I learned in Kindergarten” the author writes about how all the things we need to know for living life are learned in kindergarten, not in graduate level classes or adulthood, but in that primary year of our schooling. The things he says we learn are: share everything, play fair, don’t hit, put things back where you found them, clean up your mess, say sorry when you hurt someone, live a balanced life – learn some, think some, draw and paint, sing and dance, and play and work every day. And wonder, never lose your sense of wonder.
As a parent of a kindergartner I have watched the joy of learning fade from her – a child who once happily grabbed her backpack and headed to the car for school now is reluctant to go and would prefer a nap on the couch despite it being 8:15 in the morning. The joy of learning is fading for the sake of rit and rigor and supposed success, when we’re really losing the success of learned social skills and dynamic imaginative play.
Our students are no longer taught to live a balanced life with both play and work. Rather they are pushed to the limit each day with more testing and more worksheets and more rigorous academia. Despite studies that show children who are allowed to play have higher language skills, both receptive and expressive, and better problem solving skills, school leadership continues to add on to the curriculum requirements.
In addition to language and problem solving skills, learning through play helps children increase cognitive development, increase self-confidence, reduce anxiety, learn basic social development skills such as cooperation, sharing, and conflict resolution – all skills and traits that are necessary and critical to navigating adulthood.
I would wager a guess that a number of you, if not the majority of you, had the old-fashion type of kindergarten that allowed for naps, extra recess, more imaginative play and less seat work – and look at you all, I think you turned out pretty well, after all you are overseeing the education of thousands of children.
I implore you, the school board and district leaders, to reconsider the kindergarten curriculum and the proposed increase of scope and sequence being piloted this year. Our kids deserve to be kids and learn the best way kids do – through play!
No, thank you Ashley Sabo for having the heart and the guts to stand before a school board and telling them basic truths. I joked years ago that Governor Markell would set up a Smarter Balanced In Utero Assessment. With all the Kindergarten and pre-school push lately, I may not be too far off! But seriously, Ashley Sabo should run for office. We need more common sense in Legislative Hall. And any public comment that quotes Robert Fulghum is great!