The Disappearance of Child-Directed Activities and Teachers’ Autonomy

A recent report released from Defending the Early Years documents survey results of kindergarten teachers about the disappearance of child-directed activities. The report finds that schools in the wealthiest and poorest school districts in Massachusetts have reduced the amount of time kindergartners have for child-directed activities such as free play, rest, recess, snack and lunch. While these activities have been reduced, the study found that high socioeconomic status schools (SES) schedule 30 minutes more daily, two and a half more hours weekly, than low SES schools. In addition, a survey of kindergarten teachers in the wealthiest and poorest districts in Massachusetts revealed that most teachers are required to use scripted curricula that leaves some children bored or frustrated and teachers do not have enough time to reflect on and adapt their teaching. The report concludes that low SES kindergartners experience educational conditions that do not prepare them for a career in the creative economy where creativity, personal agency, and sense of purpose are necessary. Advocacy at the state and local level is recommended to compel schools to adopt practices that address the needs of children rather than the needs of administrators in pursuit of higher test scores.

The New York Early Childhood Professional Development Institute believes in access to excellence for all of New York’s young children, starting at birth. This report points out the need for policy makers and administrators in Massachusetts and across the nation to cease treating children as data points and to design responsive educational environments led by empowered early educators that nurture the whole child. The Institute works with state and local government to translate best practices and research into effective public policies for all sectors and services that impact the lives of young children, including public health, economics, housing, workforce development, criminal justice, mental health, education. These efforts help to ensure that young children receive high quality services in school, at home, and in their communities so that they are better prepared for school and life.

To learn more about the Institute’s work, click here.

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