Academic preschools receive low grade

In a comparative study of student transition from kindergarten to elementary grades, children from developmentally oriented, child-centered preschools adjusted better than those from preschools that stressed academics. By fifth grade, children from academic preschool and kindergarten classes earned lower grades, met fewer reading and math benchmarks, lagged developmentally and exhibited more disruptive behavior than peers from more child-centered programs.

Rebecca Marcon, University of North Florida, studied 461 preschoolers in academic and developmentally oriented classrooms in Washington, D.C., beginning in 1986. These children were matched demographically and tracked through elementary school. Results show that students from academic preschool programs had a particularly difficult time making the transition from primary to upper elementary grades, where more independent thinking is required. Marcon concludes that an academic focus in early grades does not reflect the way preschool and kindergarten-age children learn best. Children at this age cope with academic demands in order to please adults, but focusing on children’s physical, cognitive, social and emotional needs appears to have more positive, long-lasting effects on school adjustment and academic achievement.

“Academic Preschool akin to Ticking Time Bomb”, Report on Educational Research, Volume 26, Number 9, April 27, 1994, pp. 7-8.

Published in ERN, September/October 1994, Volume 7, Number 4.<p

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