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Subjects are combined in logical ways, and students benefit by gaining a deeper understanding of a topic. While studying a creek, students might create a model of the soil at the bottom of the creek, write and illustrate a fictional account of the life of a crayfish, and graph changes in creek temperature over time. They might also consider the way that waterways have influenced history and society.
What about Common Core?
You’ve likely heard a lot about the Common Core. Many people have legitimate concerns about the standards and their effect on education.
At Country Classroom we have thought a lot about these standards. We are not afraid of high standards or rigorous expectations. However, we know that distressing young children with unrealistic expectations is not the route to academic excellence.
Follow the research on education and learning and stay informed of the best practices.
Reflect upon our practice and shift it to meet the needs of our students.
Let children play.
Rely upon our training, which is grounded in great educational thinkers such as Marie Montessori and John Dewey.
See ourselves as teachers of children and not teachers of a test.
Our concerns with the Common Core:
There are some standards that are not appropriate for many young children. All kindergarteners should not be expected to write all of the upper and lower cases letters or count to 100 by both ones and tens without error. While for some kids this is appropriate, for many others, it is not. We will veer away from the Common Core the most at the K-3 level.
The expectations could lead to long hours of math and literacy drills, to the exclusion of play and other interactive experiences. There is substantial research that interactive and imaginative play is the most important academic preparation we can give young children. (Ref. 1. 2. 3.) Play is where children develop their executive functioning and their ability to cooperate, be creative and reason. We will not let Common Core expectations get in the way of tree climbing, jump roping and plain old play. We love play. We will not only do this because we love it, but because it has been demonstrated to lead to academic excellence later in life.
There is no evidence that “more, earlier” will lead to success later. (Ref. 4.) There are many countries that do not start academic instruction until the kids are ready for it, when they are 6, 7, or 8 years old. Scandinavian countries, for example, routinely start reading instruction at age 7. The kids all learn how to read. If a child has a learning disability, that is preventing her from learning how to read, it is obvious. We will know. We will then talk to you about our concerns. We will advocate for your child, getting them the help that he needs.
The Core is inextricably linked to standardized tests, and the standardized tests are problematic, for many reasons. We might administer an occasional standardized test, for fun. It is good for the teachers to administer an occasional test, to see if, for example, none of the kids understand what a decimal is. An occasional bubble-test is not going to ruin them. The tests, however, will not be high stakes, for anyone. To evaluate your child’s progress, we will look carefully at them, listen to them read and count, talk to them about their stories, and ask them to participate in the creation of their own education.
The Common Core is not inherently evil. They are guidelines that are useful to look at. No guideline, though, will get in the way of the joyful, engaging education that we will provide.
1. Moffitt, T.E.; Arseneault, L.; Belsky, D.; Dickson, N.; Hancox, R.J.; Harrington, H.; Houts, R.; Poulton, R.; Roberts, B.W.; Ross, S.; Sears, M.R.; Thomson, WM.; & Caspi, A. (2011). A gradient of childhood self-control predicts health, wealth, and public safety. Proceedings National Academy of Sciences, 108(7), 2693-2698.
2. Leong, D. J., & Bodrova, E. (2012). Assessing and scaffolding: Make-believe play. Young Children, 67(1), 28-34.
3. Tough, P. (2012). How children succeed: Grit, curiosity, and the hidden power of character. New York, NY: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
4. 6 Almon, J. (2013, Fall). Reading at five: Why? SEEN Magazine, 24-25