I came across a post tonight by Angela Maiers titled: Basics Before Big Ideas? NOT! While I was reading her post I remembered two things. First, I began thinking about our observation of Susan Kempton when she told us about the research showing that kids as young as 2 years old can infer.
The other thing that I remembered, was this graph that I came across in a blog post (Sorry, I can't remember who's blog in order to give proper credit).
While kindergarteners may not be able to read or write at first, they are more than capable of thinking critically and divergently. In fact, they may be better at it than we are!
There has been a big push in early childhood for "developmentally appropriate practice (DAP)". That push has helped more than it has hurt. It has kept standardized testing out of kindergarten and helped to keep the balance from leaning too heavily toward academics. However, some people have taken its meaning too far and made broad position statements that children under the age of 6 should not blah, blah, blah. To me DAP simply means differentiation - every child progresses at their own pace and usually going through the same stages.
While some students (probably very few in actuality) may not be ready for big idea thinking, many are. It is a crime not to provide the opportunity for big idea thinking when many are developmentally ready. Some children (I was one) are whole to part learners. They need to see the big ideas and see how they fit, before they can begin to focus on the individual skills that go into it.
Please do not confuse the inability to read or write with the inability to think!
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