Where Imagination Outshines Memorization

Kids Haven’t Changed; Kindergarten Has

New data support a return to “balance” in kindergarten

by Laura Pappano

In the ongoing battle over kindergarten—has exploratory play been shunted aside for first-grade-style pencil-and-paper work?—one of the nation’s oldest voices in child development is weighing in with historic data.

 

The Gesell Institute for Human Development, named for pioneering founder of the Yale Child Study Center, Arnold Gesell, and known worldwide for its popular parenting series Your One-Year-Old through Your Ten- to Fourteen-Year-Old, will share the results of an 18-month study at a conference in New Haven, Conn. on October 15.

 

The national study, undertaken to determine how child development in 2010 relates to Gesell’s historic observations, used key assessment items identical to those Gesell created as the basis for his developmental “schedules” which were published in 1925, 1940, and after his death by colleagues Louise Bates Ames and Frances Ilg in 1964 and 1979.Given the current generation of children that—to many adults at least—appear eerily wise, worldly, and technologically savvy, these new data allowed Gesell researchers to ask some provocative questions: Have kids gotten smarter? Can they learn things sooner? What effect has modern culture had on child development?

 

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