Good afternoon to everyone. I am Karel Kilimnik, a retired Early Childhood teacher and co-founder of the Alliance for Phila Public Schools. When I retired I was teaching kindergarten and horrified at what I was expected to do. Instead of a play-oriented, hands-on, discovery approach my students were brutally forced into relentless assessments, enforced sitting for too long as I was supposed to follow highly scripted curriculums, my blocks & easel were banished as was project time where children could chose what they wanted to do and play with others as they explored a rich environment. Please note that the Common Core ECE Standards were not developed by any Educators.
Young children learn by playing. I have included links to articles and research documenting this fact. I hope that you take time to read them as you develop early childhood standards for our students. Defending the Early Years is a national organization focused on developmentally-appropriate Early Childhood practice. Their articles document why standards and standardized testing are inappropriate for young children. Fred Rogers stated that play is the work of children. In the short and long term, play benefits cognitive, social, emotional, and physical development. Children learn as they discuss problems, negotiate, analyze, make mistakes, experiment, collaborate and cooperate with each other. Play provides an opportunity for teachers to observe critical thinking skills of their students. Play leads to creativity, capacity for problem-solving and love of learning. How does a child approach and solve problems? Children use many mathematical and scientific concepts as they negotiate their way. Building blocks provide multiple opportunities to foster beginning mathematical skills as children experiment with construction. It is up to teachers to provide them with a rich environment filled with many opportunities to explore. A literacy-rich environment filled with books, magazines, posters, signs, and recipes creates a desire to learn how to interpret and read. In my class we always had an assortment of insects, hosted an annual embryology project, went on fieldtrips from the local post office to the Art Museum, discussed and wrote about everything we did. Young children need hands-on experiences. That is how they learn. Look at kindergarten in Finland where play guides everything. You have an article in front of you from the Atlantic about kindergarten in Finland. Outside play, inside areas such as housekeeping, ice cream store, hospital all provide opportunities for children to learn and develop skills they will use as they progress through life.
I do have one question Councilwoman Blackwell…is there a way our contact info can be collected so that we are notified of future Ed Committee meetings?
The Atlantic/ Joyful Kindergartners of Finland
Defending the Early Years (DEY) Resources
DEY Fact Sheet on why testing harms young children
DEY Report – How School Reforms Are Failing Low-Income Young Children
Dr Constance Kamii’s (Univ Alabama @ Birmingham), internationally recoginized ECE expert’s paper on from the Common Core State Standards for Mathematics, Grades K–3:
My Reasons for Not Supporting Them
DEY Report Reading Instruction in Kindergarten Little to Gain, Much to Lose