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April 2011 | Volume 68 | Number 7
The Transition Years
In our rush to promote achievement, we've forgotten how 5-year-olds really learn.
Kindergarten teacher Celia Carlson passionately describes kindergarten in terms of transitions—it's the
only first time that children will begin school, and it should be a place where both children and families adjust to a new, challenging context. She worries, though, that we've let go of what makes kindergarten a safe place for children to start. In our push to do more, sooner, faster, we fragment children into little pieces of assessment information and let go of the activities that enabled us to get to know them in more personal and integrated ways.
Across town, teacher Wendy Anderson feels like a rebel. Working in a high-poverty school, she struggles to maintain a semblance of a child-centered program. When she found a sensory table stacked with extra materials in another classroom, she asked whether she could have it. The kids flock to it, in need of kinesthetic experience and the joy of pouring, measuring, and comparing. "Where did you get that?" a colleague whispered, as though Wendy had brought in a unicorn or something illegal. Hers is also the only classroom that goes out for recess in the morning. Again, her colleagues ask, "How do you find the time?" Although she doesn't know why no one else goes out for recess, she wonders whether other classes lose precious time because of behavior issues associated with children who have not had a chance to play.
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Copyright © 2011 by ASCD
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