These days, the question is asked over and over, "Is Kindergarten the New First Grade?" I heard advertising on the radio yesterday for an NPR segment asking that question, and it is not a new one. Parker and Temple noted in 1925 in reference to unifying the two,
"...each of these had its strong point; the first grade emphasized the essential social skills, the tools of civilization (meaning reading), while the kindergarten emphasized the recreational and social possibilities found in children's expressive activities and their playful imitation of domestic and community activities. The unified program unites these two lines. It carries the playful study of social life up into the first grade, introduces playful methods of studying the essential social skills, and introduces kindergarten children of adequate mental age to reading , the most characteristic of the subjects of the old-fashioned first grade."I have an all day meeting to attend, but for those interested in further reading, I recommend three earlier posts, Children are not clockwork, Class teaching vs. individual teaching, part one, and part two. Schools attempt to clump children in large groupings of varying capacity. Some are bored. Some are in over their heads. That is the same ineffective approach , used seamlessly through high school and college. Even students preparing to become teachers don't get their hands on real learning until their near graduation.
The problem won't be fixed by making kindergarten the new first grade. We would be more honest with ourselves and each other if we were to stop calling kindergarten by the name that Froebel gave it and call it grade zero instead. To use the name kindergarten for classes vacant in the application of his genius is an insult to his legacy and to those who were successful for a time in reshaping education.
Make, fix, play, learn and create...