No matter how you feel about the Common Core, Kindergarten should not be all work and no play. I was simply stunned when I read that the annual Kindergarten play at a school in Elwood, N.Y., had been cancelled so the teachers could spend more time "preparing children for college and career with valuable lifelong skills."
What will the children really learn from this experience? And what kind of message does this letter from school's interim principal and four Kindergarten teachers send to parents about how anxious they should be during the many years ahead?
Dear Kindergarten Parents and Guardians,
We hope this letter serves to help you better understand how the demands of the 21st century are changing schools, and, more specifically, to clarify, misperceptions about the Kindergarten show. It is most important to keep in mind is [sic] that this issue is not unique to Elwood. Although the movement toward more rigorous learning standards has been in the national news for more than a decade, the changing face of education is beginning to feel unsettling for some people. What and how we teach is changing to meet the demands of a changing world. The reason for eliminating the Kindergarten show is simple. We are responsible for preparing children for college and career with valuable lifelong skills and know that we can best do that by having them become strong readers, writers, coworkers and problem solvers. Please do not fault us for making professional decisions that we know will never be able to please everyone. But know that we are making these decisions with the interests of all children in mind.
Certainly, quality early education is the foundation for success in school and life. However, these educators have taken this mantra too far. At my daughter's school, the students spend years looking forward to their opportunity to be in the annual fourth grade play, and the performance is always an event to be remembered.
Personally, I believe that being involved in theatre teaches children lifelong skills that will be valuable no matter what they pursue in adulthood: confidence, bravery, teamwork, speaking clearly, the ability to remember important thoughts, and an attention to detail.
I hope the children in Elwood will have another chance to shine on stage soon.
Photo of child via Shutterstock