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“I have been a teacher’s aide for 15 years… We are asking these 5- and 6-year-olds to do things that they are not emotionally able to do, and we are now seeing many young children with anxiety.”

Psychology Today recently published a collection of comments from kindergarten teachers describing their frustrations with developmentally inappropriate teaching practices. The comments, compiled by educational researcher Peter Gray, were originally posted in response to an article describing protests among kindergarten teachers in Brookline, Massachusetts against school district policies and curriculum emphasizing drills and tests at the expense of creativity and play. 

“Kindergarten should be a transition—with plenty of play and student-centered learning—from nursery to first-grade academic curriculum, but instead children are forgoing that transition. They are being thrown into a structured environment that is requiring them to be mini robots. They have to sit for extended periods of time (even adults find that hard), they have to use ‘brain’ power without the aid of free movement to stave off boredom. They are not required to use their imaginations or ask questions that stimulate interaction with teachers and peers. … Kindergarten classrooms shouldn’t have desks and chairs; they should have centers, reading nooks, educational and fun games, and space to explore.” 

“I’ve seen a rise in anxiety in my kids, avoidance of tasks that are ‘too hard,’ and some pretty impressive breakdowns or meltdowns. I’ve also seen a drop in executive function, imagination, and ability to sit and focus…. I have to give them about 13 different required formal tests throughout the year. Thirteen! I’m seeing assessment fatigue. Who knew five- and six-year-olds could burn out? They certainly can, and I worry about how they’ll continue through school for the 12 years after I have them.”

Through our Early School Success initiative, launched in the Beaverton and Forest Grove School Districts, we’re working with teachers and families to ensure young children are taught in developmentally appropriate ways and supported as they transition from preschool into the elementary school.

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