Starting our kids on the right path

Today's Boston Globe Magazine has an article about stressed 5-year-olds. No, that is not a typo-- I did not accidently type 5 instead of 15. The article is about "pressurized kindergarten."

Apparently some people think it's a good idea to begin testing and assessing academic performance as early as possible. Perhaps they think that starting young will help these children to better deal with unhealthy stress they may encounter in high school.

With all the focus on preparing kids for high school -- which is then focused on preparing them for college-- we can lose sight of our ultimate goals for children. Don't we want future leaders and productive citizens who thrive in life? Adults with loving relationships who create a better world?

Perhaps those who are pushing academic assessments into kindergartens don't know that we have an epidemic of depression and anxiety, with 1 in 5 high school students having a full clinical episode. Perhaps they don't know that even when a child doesn't know he will be assessed-- but his parent is told-- the student's anxiety increases and performance worsens.

Perhaps they don't know this about college students:
"The vast majority of college students are feeling stressed these days, and significant numbers are at risk of depression, according to an Associated Press-mtvU poll. Eighty-five percent of the students reported feeling stress in their daily lives in recent months, with worries about grades, school work, money and relationships the big culprits..." says the May 21 Associated Press article on

Instead of bringing college- and high school-stressors to kindergarten, we should look at what matters most for thriving in life. The data is very clear: academic performance is not a good predictor of a lifetime of flourishing. To thrive in the future economy we need less fact- regurgitating and more creativity. To help our children thrive in life, we need to stop worrying about test scores and start encouraging them to increase positive emotion by developing their gifts and strengths.

Why is it that schools from college to kindergarten aren't measuring the results that matter: how their graduates fare in life? When you look at many years of real-life data you find a very different picture than most of us are usually given. Positive emotion predicts creativity, longevity, physical health, relationship satisfaction and career success. Let's start kids on the right path and focus on what will matter most for their lives.

1 comment:

Dorothy said...

Thanks, Christine!
I feel a wave of relief in my body as I read your response to the Globe article, parents, and our culture, as well. Another point I'd like to add is that these kids are being handed yesterday's news! They are being stressed with information that won't be relevant in 15 minutes!
I'm happy to report that an evolutionary movement in education is underway. Not a repair of a system that has served its purpose and expired, but a new construct for learning that embraces today's world and today's children.
Educators and lerning pioneers are meeting each other, relieved to find that they're not alone, but part of a global movement intended to set children, infact, everyone, free to pursue learning in a way that supports our innate strengths and allows for team work and full self-expression while contributing to society and the world.
Take a look at www.dynamiclearning, , and thanks for your powerful voice!

Dorothy Eckes, cpcc
Philadelphia, PA

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