Common Core is Developmentally Inappropriate

Screen Shot 2014-05-20 at 7.59.36 PMOne of the things we learned as we homeschooled our four children is that kids don’t learn according to any official schedule. I mean, we knew that – we were parents, after all, and none of our kids did much of anything on the same timeline. Some walked early, some walked late. One got her first teeth by seven months of age, another was closer to eleven months old when he got his teeth. My first two kids were reading by the end of kindergarten, while another was barely reading “on level” in third grade. We had read the writings of Raymond and Dorothy Moore, especially Better Late than Early, and realized early reading was not necessary for our kids, even though it made us feel like great parents. We were patient with our late reader because we knew that his path was normal for him, even if it was different from his siblings.

Now that my kids are grown and my twenty years of homeschooling them are over, I tutor students who are mostly in traditional educational settings. I have come to believe that the Common Core style work that younger students are required to do is developmentally inappropriate. My homeschooling style was highly influenced by the classical education method, which theorizes that young children are very well adapted to memorization – learning the steps of the processes, memorizing facts, and just sucking up knowledge like little sponges. They are not ready to explain why some of these things work, like they are required to do in many Common Core style problems. Deep understanding, while a worthy goal, is a lot to expect from children in grades K – 3. That really comes as children progress developmentally toward middle school.

I was glad when I read in this Washington Post article that early childhood experts agree with what I have been observing with my students:

“The Common Core State Standards for students in kindergarten through Grade 3 have come under severe criticism by early childhood education experts who say that they are not developmentally appropriate.”

According to the article, CCSS are developmentally inappropriate, not based on what we know about how young children learn, assume that all children learn at the same rate and in the same way, and don’t consider play, an essential part of how young children learn, as an important part of the school day for the early grades.

In addition, no early childhood professionals were included in the development process, nor has there been any research or pilot testing to show that these standards are appropriate for young children.

“The CCSS do not build on what is known from earlier long-term studies such as the Perry Preschool Project, the Abecedarian Project, the Abbott Schools of NJ, or Chicago Parent Child Centers which demonstrate what works for young children.7, 10 There is no convincing research showing that certain skills or bits of knowledge such as counting to 100 in kindergarten or being able to ‘tell and write time in hours and half-hours using analog and digital clocks in first grade’ will lead to later success in school.”

In addition, children are be tested and assessed at a rate that leaves little time for creative, experiential, and play-based learning:

“The CCSS are measured using frequent and inappropriate assessments – this includes high-stakes tests, standardized tests and computer-administered assessments. States are required to use computer-based tests (such as PARCC) to assess CCSS. This is leading to mandated computer use at an early age and the misallocation of funds to purchase computers and networking systems in school districts that are already underfunded.”

In my experience with my students over the last two years, this emphasis on testing and “deep understanding” is creating young children with severe test anxiety, who conclude from their poor test performance that they are not good at subjects like Science, Social Studies, or Math.

In. Third. Grade.

How will making kids feel like failures for not being able to do what they should not be asked to do make them “career and college ready?”

The article’s author lists six principles that should guide policy for creating standards for early education. See the article for these common sense recommendations that actually take into consideration how young children learn:

Katie Abercrombie

Florida PolitiChick Katie Abercrombie, native of North Carolina and a long-time resident in Florida, is a 20-year homeschooling veteran. Now that her four children are grown, she continues to indulge her love for teaching and learning by tutoring, substitute teaching, and teaching writing classes for homeschoolers. She earned her BS degree from Florida Southern College and her MA from Rollins College. BC, or Before Children, she served as the Director of Youth and Family Ministry at her church and has continued to be active in ministry and leadership in her current church. Homeschooling afforded her many opportunities to be politically active and she recently retired from a term on the Orange County Republican Executive Committee. Like Katie's Political Page on Facebook and follow her on Twitter @aberaussie.

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