Twenty-First Century Kindergarten
Gina R. McCarthy
July 12, 2011
In the seventies, kindergarten consisted of song singing, snack time, little instruction and nap time in a half day setting. Now, in the twenty-first century, it consists of; math, reading, science and the fine arts in a seven hour day five days a week. The competitiveness of kindergarten in the twenty-first century includes academic standards traditionally reserved for upper elementary students.
The fundamental goal of teaching is to instill a love for learning in the students. Although everyone is capable of learning, it is the teacher’s responsibility to teach the students how to effectively learn in an environment that is respectful and encouraging. Since humans have multiple learning styles, it is important for the teacher to get to know the students and how they learn best. The classroom can encourage or inhibit learning depending on the dominant learning style of each student. By accommodating the different learning styles in the classroom, the teacher can create an atmosphere that is conducive to learning. Teachers must have the desire to guide their students though the learning process. By creating a relaxed environment for the students, stimulating conversation about concepts being presented and organizing material in a way that makes it easier to understand are great ways to encourage learning.
Some teachers are having real struggles with new standards. For instance, kindergarten now has a ninety minute reading block. This is a long time period for most kids to sit still, especially five year olds. It does not allow much time for the teacher to plan “fun teaching” to help kids acquire a love for learning. Teacher’s must take the curriculum and put their own edge to it to make it more interesting for the students. Sometimes it seems like they are forcing kids to grow up too quickly. Children must have time to play, after all, play induces learning.
Theorist Lev Vygotsky was particularly interested in the social dynamics that dealt with development. He was concerned with how development and learning takes place through social interactions (Hoorn, Nourot, Scales &Alward, 2011).
Vygotsky, a Russian psychologist, created a better understanding of the relationship between play and the levels of development and symbolic thought. Symbolic play occurs when children use objects to represent ideas, situations, and other objects. “For Vygotsky, the use of objects in play as support for the development of meaning-in-the-mind marks a key stage in the development of thought (Hoorn,et al, 2011).Vygotsky focused on the social and cultural development that guide children’s cognitive processes. His theory was called the socialcultural theory. He believed that children learn through social interactions and cognitive growth was a collaborative process (Paplia, Olds &Feldman, 2008). His theories apply to early childhood education in various ways, one being the introduction of the technique of scaffolding. This is when a child receives help and guidance in performing a task until it is mastered. “Vygotsky believed that as a result of teacher-child collaboration, the child uses concepts learned in the collaborative process to solve problem when the teacher is not present” (Papalia, et al 2008). Ultimately, this helps a child become a more independent problem solver.
Another esteemed theorist is Jean Piaget. He inspired many educators to develop curricula that have utilized his ideas about children’s cognitive development. His theory had an emphasis on mental processes. It was called the cognitive-stage theory, as he believed that children’s cognitive development grows in a series of stages. Piaget believed that children have the inborn ability to adapt to their environment. Vygotsky’s theory, like Piagets, both emphasize children’s active take in their environment. Both these men contributed...
References: Eliason, C., Jenkins, L. (2008). A Practical Guide to Early Childhood Curriculum (8th ed.). Upper Saddle River: New Jersey: Merrill Prentice Hall.
Papalia, D., Olds, S., Feldman, R., (2008). A Child’s World Infancy through Adolscence (11th ed.). Boston: McGraw-Hill.
Pennsylvania Standards for Kindergarten as per website
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