Development Differs: A Forgotten Idea

By Laura Robb on March 5, 2013
  • 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.”


Development differs are some the important areas that all educators have to consider, and they have to work based on this important rule. To avoid damage the students’ feeling or improvement we have to understand the students’ stage development generally at first. Then, we should teach them by the way that fit with their development requirements. For example, student of kindergarten stage need to learn through their playing time. That will help all students to follow their development stages gradually, so educators need to have a good knowledge about the students development to work based on it.

Thank you

Thank you for this artcle!I am a literacy coach for my district and a primary grade teacher. I am seeing too many kindergarten classrooms that are ignoring the developmental needs of their children. Play and pretending are no longer part of the curriculum and learning of young children. As a result of my observations, I have become an advocate for keeping developmentally appropriate centers in kindergarten.

I agree wholeheartedly with the idea that we should allow children to learn through creative, imaginative play. However, the vast majority of parents are unable to keep their children out of Kindergarten for year while s/he develops the skills necessary to learn in a structured environment. The best they can do is send their child to school and allow him/her to be retained. However, the social stigma of retention prevents many from doing this, even if it's recommended by the teacher. I wish this article had offered realistic suggestions for supplementing the learning experience with activities that both appeal to the creative child and foster concrete literacy.

Thank you for this article. I teach primer which is for kids between kinder and first. My program is truly the gift of time. This is sometimes a difficult sell to parents but those who do it come out ahead of their peers on all accounts, socially, emotionally and academically..

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