Newsweek addresses something worth thinking about: "The New First Grade: Too Much Too Soon?" Peg Tyre's article concerns the pressures put on young elementary school students. I've certainly noticed the trend. Tyre writes,
In the last decade, the earliest years of schooling have become less like a trip to "Mister Rogers' Neighborhood" and more like SAT prep. Thirty years ago first grade was for learning how to read. Now, reading lessons start in kindergarten and kids who don't crack the code by the middle of the first grade get extra help. Instead of story time, finger painting, tracing letters and snack, first graders are spending hours doing math work sheets and sounding out words in reading groups.
The ideas trickle down, affecting nursery schools, too. I've heard of parents getting nervous about kindergarten and enrolling their four-year-olds in more "academic" programs instead of play-based preschools. Some children thrive in such environments, of course, but are we as parents helping drive the trend that Tyre writes of? I don't think we can chalk all of it up to testing.
That said, when the kids do go to college, they'd better not order a term paper over the Internet. Charles McGrath, at The New York Times, grades a few.