Keeping Play in Kindergarten


After two rewarding years of teaching pre-K, I felt ready for the new challenge of teaching kindergarten. I knew there would be some substantial changes as I moved from the world of pre-K to the more traditional K-12 school model. After all, DC kindergartners are expected to master the more rigorous Common Core standards which include the requirement for students to “read emergent-reader texts with purpose and understanding.” Nap time was gone and lesson planning would soon consume a large portion of my weekends.

These were all changes I had anticipated and even welcomed. The major change I did not anticipate was the dramatic shift away from play-based learning in favor of direct teacher instruction. The play kitchen was gone, along with the vast stretches of time dedicated to center-based learning in which students were able to choose their preferred activity. I spent a lot of my time as a kindergarten teacher trying to find the right balance between allowing opportunities for play and ensuring that all of my students experienced significant academic growth throughout the school year.

Source: EdCentral

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Segregation and peers’ characteristics in the 2010–2011 kindergarten class: 60 years after Brown v. Board

Closing achievement gaps—disparities in academic achievement between minority and white students, and between low-income and higher-income students—has long been an unrealized goal of U.S. education policy. It has now been 60 years since the Supreme Court declared “separate but equal” schools unconstitutional in Brown v. Board of Education. We experienced two decades of school desegregation, coupled with a “war on poverty,” that substantially narrowed race-based gaps during the 1970s and 1980s. However, subsequent shifts in policies that led to increased segregation and inequality have resulted in ballooning income-based gaps and a virtual halt to progress on closing race-based gaps.

With income inequality at record levels Mishel et al. 2012, the interactions between poverty and race remain strong and troubling and continue to impede educational progress for many students. One result of such interactions is ongoing segregation—at both the neighborhood and school levels. Yet most education “reforms” focus on a narrow set of policy fixes that minimize the roles of poverty and of race and overlook the impact of segregation. As scholars document the connections between neighborhood- and school-level segregation, it is important that we better understand how both affect schools and students in order to more productively guide both future research and policymaking.

This paper uses data from a recent representative cohort of U.S. students entering kindergarten—the National Center for Education Statistics’ Early Childhood Longitudinal Study, Kindergarten Class of 2010-11 ECLS-K:2011—to begin to do that. We first describe how segregated schools are by both race and income, by comparing the racial and socioeconomic status SES composition of those kindergarten classes with what they would look like if they represented the characteristics of the U.S. student body overall. We then explore the differences in students’ other characteristics based on the racial makeup of their own classes. Finally, we analyze how their academic performance changes over that first year as measured by their place on the score distribution in math, reading, and approaches to learning at entry in the fall and again in the spring by level of segregation in the school.

The findings, though just descriptive, are often surprising and raise both serious concerns and many new questions:

  • The vast majority of white students, even poor ones, are in classrooms with other students who are not poor. In contrast, most students of color, both black and Hispanic, go to school with many other students who are living in poverty.
  • While the family characteristics of white children vary relatively little depending on the type of classroom they are in unless that classroom is very heavily minority, family characteristics of black and Hispanic children vary substantially from heavily white to heavily minority schools.
  • Academic performance varies greatly, depending on the school’s level of segregation across all races of students; the more heavily minority the school, the less prepared students are on average in the fall, and the smaller their relative gains by spring.
  • Finally, the data appear to support more sophisticated analyses’ suggestions that income segregation underlies many apparent negative consequences of racial segregation.

The bottom line is that, while race is not the real “culprit” in education, racial status is so strongly determinative of a minority child’s peers’ other characteristics—especially parental and family background—that integrating schools appears key to improving odds of children’s success and increase equality among groups.

Source: Economic Policy Institute

Kindergartners’ Skills at School Entry: An Analysis of the ECLS-K


This report provides an analysis of the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study, Kindergarten Class of 2010-11, focusing on the school readiness and abilities of beginning kindergartners.The analysis examined four risk factors that have been shown to affect childrens development and school achievement: single parent households, mothers with less than a high school education, households with incomes below the federal poverty line, and non-English speaking households. High-risk children those with all four risk factors were found to be almost a year behind their peers with no risk factors in their reading and math abilities.The researchers also created composite readiness scores based on teacher ratings of childrens academic and social skills. Based on the researchers calculation, less than one-third of children were rated by teachers as “in-progress” or better on both reading and math skills.

Source: Mathematica Policy Research

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Discover MyPlate: Nutrition Education for Kindergarten | Food and Nutrition Service


Discover MyPlate is fun and inquiry-based nutrition education that fosters the development of healthy food choices and physically active lifestyles during a critical developmental and learning period for children — kindergarten.

Kindergarten teachers can meet education standards for Math, Science, English Language Arts, and Health using the 6 ready-to-go and interactive lessons. Children become food-smart as they practice counting, reading, writing, and more. Fun characters and developmentally appropriate activities engage children in:

  • Exploring healthy choices from each of the MyPlate food groups
  • Discovering the colorful variety of fruits and vegetables and how they grow
  • Identifying feelings of hunger and fullness
  • Selecting balanced meals and healthy snacks
  • Experiencing the fun and importance of being physically active

Available: in PDF, for download. If you have difficulty opening any of these files in your Internet browser, please right-click on the link and “save target as…” to download. Printed copies expected in Fall 2014.

Source: Food and Nutrition Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture

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CLASP: Policy Solutions That Work for Low-Income People


This tool is intended for state advocates and policymakers to use as they work to develop a state early childhood agenda. It includes a series of key questions to understand the context and conditions of young children, birth to six, in the state. Where possible, we also include infant/toddler specific questions. Qu estions include data on demographics and program participation (such as health and nutrition programs), as well as the details of child care and early education settings in the state.

Where possible, links to online data sources are provided, including both original sources and organizations that have analyzed multiple datasets. By following these links, groups can find data specific to their state to populate the tool. Once compiled, these data could be analyzed to identify any trends, areas of need for policy change, and opportunities to support the case for increased investment.

Users can download and save a copy of this tool, open the tool in Microsoft Word, then fill in their state’s data. National figures are included where possible, which can provide context of how infants and toddlers are faring on key indicators.

The full version of the data tool contains five sections, which can be individually downloaded using the links below:

Free assistance in using this tool, and additional supporting resources, are available from CLASP. Please contact Hannah Matthews, 202-906-8006 or

Source: CLASP

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Ready or Not, Here Comes the Kindergarten Class of 2013


About four million U.S. children will start kindergarten this fall. We know that learning begins long before children start school. What else do we know about these youngsters?

Child Trends, a nonprofit, nonpartisan research center on issues pertaining to children and youth, examined a range of available statistics to provide a portrait of the kindergarten class of 2013.

“Overall, these kids are happy, eager to learn, resilient, and have affectionate relationships with their parents,” said David Murphey, a Child Trends senior researcher and co-author of the report with Research Assistant Mae Cooper. “Comparing this year’s kindergarten class to one ten years ago, we find that they are much more diverse, more than twice as likely  to be receiving food assistance, more likely to have seen a dentist in the past year, and more likely to live in safe neighborhoods.”

Source: Child Trends

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