February 10, 2014

Kindergarten: Not Just Nap Time

For today’s grownups, kindergarten may have been learning how to follow directions, play nicely, wait your turn, and other social skills. Learning your numbers, letters, shapes, and colors was part of it too, but to a lesser extent. Today, as followers of education policy are probably well aware, kindergarten is much more than that.

Education Week reports that a new study from the University of Virginia shows kindergarten is focused much more on preparing students to read than any other task.

“From 1998 to 2006, kindergarten teachers reported devoting 25% more time to teaching early literacy, from 5.5 hours to seven hours per week,” Education Week reports. According to the article, the researchers used data from the federal Early Childhood Longitudinal Study to analyze changes in teacher expectations, curriculum, and students' time spent on different subjects.

The report shows that overall, more kids attend full-day kindergarten and literacy time overwhelmed time for all other subjects.

“Kindergartners today now spend as much time on reading and language arts as they do on mathematics, science, social studies, music, and art combined,” Education Week reports. Time for each of these subjects decreased, except for math. “The percentage of teachers who reported their students never received physical education more than tripled, from 14% to 45%.”