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A Pediatric Perspective

Is Kindergarten the New 1st Grade?

Published February 19, 2013 1:33 PM by Cecilia Cruse

Last week I presented at another conference for early childhood educators.  Entitled 10 Terrific Tips for DAP Fine Motor Skills the workshop  covered  important sensory and motor components needed for developing  good hand skills.  (See my blog from last spring on the AHA! Moment).  The room was packed and it was great to see so many teachers take a passionate interest in addressing fine motor components.  The lament I hear repeatedly however from these educators is the push that is now on young children to develop early reading and writing skills often before they are developmentally ready.  Yet is this early rush on developing academic skills paying off?  In an article entitled  Kindergarten: It's the New 1st Grade,  Edward Miller, a senior researcher at the nonprofit Alliance for Childhood, is quoted citing a  study that found that children who attended kindergartens with a more play base, actually did better in reading and math at age 10 than kids who attended academic kindergartens.  As this push for academics in the early years forges on, one of our OT roles should be helping educate teachers and parents on finding the balance between study and play and understanding the importance of good sensory input as part of a solid foundation for learning and development.

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