Renee Dinnerstein is an early childhood educator with many years of experience. In this post, she shows how the overly prescriptive approach encouraged by the Common Core can ruin the concept of Choice Time in kindergarten.

She writes: “Choice Time is not a time to give children tasks. It should be an opportunity for children to direct their own play and therefore, their own learning. The teacher carefully sets up centers with materials that provoke investigations but it is the child who discovers ways of using the materials.”

And further:

“Once we outline a detailed guide for kindergarten mastery we are immediately off –base. As the authors of Developmentally Appropriate Practice write, educators of kindergarten children need to, “meet children where they are as individuals and as a group.” Micromanaging what all kindergarten children must master by the end of a school year is contradictory to what we know about how young children develop and about what we need to do to support their creative, social and intellectual development. I’m not implying that we should not have high standards for all children. We do not need to have a checklist of how, what and when children need to meet very specific academic benchmarks.”

Frankly, the very idea that five-year-old children are on track for “college and career readiness” is absurd.

A few years ago, I went to an event at the Aspen Ideas Festival where Secretary Arne Duncan waxed eloquent about the importance of unstructured play and tinkering. He seemed to grasp that young children should not be placed on a treadmill of benchmarks and prescribed standards.

Too bad that the Common Core for young children does not reflect that wisdom.