Development Differs: A Forgotten Idea
- Grades: PreK–K, 1–2, 3–5
I fear that too often we pay lip service to believing that development differs among children. Schools tend to plan curriculum as if each student is the same, at the same level, and can do work districts require. They’re not the same!
My granddaughter, now six, could not recognize her letters or numbers or shapes nor could she write her name when she was four and five. Uninterested in learning these and more interested in imaginative play, it was difficult for her mother to accept this delay and recognize the creativity in her child’s play. Now, at six, she knows her letters and numbers, writes using invented spelling, practices reading patterned books such as Brown Bear by Bill Martin, Jr., and weaves her newfound knowledge into her play. We kept her out of kindergarten for a year so she could have the gift of time.
All children deserve the gift of time because each child is unique and brings to the table different literacy and personal experiences. When I hear that some states are requiring that four year olds need to know their letters, work on phonemic awareness and word families, I cringe. I am categorically against taking play as a way of learning away from children. To those with this notion, I say, “Read John Dewy; study the Reggio Emilia approach; and let young children develop through play and having dozens of teacher-led literacy experiences all day long.”