Will Common Standards Cut Playtime? (page 2)

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Updated on Jul 15, 2010

Especially problematic for Alliance members is that the “more than 90” kindergarten standards will require more hours of instruction—and probably more standardized tests. The Alliance points to research which shows that standardized tests are unreliable indicators of success in children under the age of eight, and are even detrimental to learning. Testing creates a vicious cycle for the average kindergarten classroom. With teachers already on guard following Race to the Top’s and No Child Left Behind’s joint emphasis on performance data, time normally devoted to play could be supplanted by skill and drill. Opponents worry that such practices would diminish students’ exposure to hands-on learning. The Alliance quotes Edward Miller, senior researcher in early childhood education: “[The standards] focus on discrete content knowledge and ignore the well-documented need for an integrated approach.”

In spite of their many reservations, Alliance members did applaud core standards writers for their validation of play as a teaching tool; however, members are clear in their recommendation that play be made a primary, not secondary, aspect of early childhood education whether or not states are adopting the standards. Troubled about play and hands-on learning losing their places in the classroom? Contact your child’s school and speak up. The Alliance promotes a “public outcry” in favor of play-based education. “Parents, in particular,” says Alliance director Joan Almon, “need to express loudly the concerns that many are feeling.”

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