"As public prekindergarten expands in New York City and other parts of the country, teachers face competing tensions: On the one hand, there’s new pressure to teach more challenging academic material at younger and younger ages.
On the other, there’s mounting concern about the wisdom of shoehorning kindergarten and even first-grade content into the preschool years. Today’s pre-K instructors, for instance, feel much more compelled to teach children their numbers up to 100 or how to begin sounding out words than they used to.
Increasingly, early education experts agree that the best solution is to follow Markarian’s model: Mold and challenge young minds, but do it through purposeful play.
That’s not as easy as it sounds.
“That kind of teaching is much more difficult, and it takes a lot of training,” said Deborah Stipek, a professor of education at Stanford University. It’s much easier to lecture and pass out worksheets or to let kids engage in nonpurposeful and disorganized play—simply ensuring “they don’t beat each other over the head with blocks,” she says. “Really effective teaching is both playful and organized.”"
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