Three Theories of Kindergarten Readiness
Oct 24, 2012 Learning Methodology 3874 Views
As children begin to approach the age of kindergarten, many parents begin to be concerned that the child is prepared for school. Educators have shared these same concerns throughout the years and have established some development theories that can aid parents in addressing their concerns. Educators will use those theories of development to understand the learning processes and to arrange their classroom and curriculum. Using the principles of the one or more of the theories, parents may establish ways to help their child become academically ready and parents might be able to prepare their children emotionally for a public school setting.
There are several different theories, but three seem to show up often. Understanding these three dominant theories, or any of the others, can provide a starting point for parents and teachers in helping children prepare for school.
An American pediatrician, Arnold Gesell, is given the most credit for establishing the Maturation theory. This theory suggests that educational development is determined by biology and heredity. He believed that there are predictable patterns of behavior for each age and that those norms could be used as a standard for judging growth and educational success. While today his theories are largely criticized, Gesell's work was among the first to introduce the ideas of child development to parents.
With regard to kindergarten preparedness, Gesell's Maturationist theory would suggest that when the child reached the developmental milestone witnessed by the ability to recite the alphabet, then the child was ready for kindergarten. Children who had not reached that milestone would be held back until they displayed developmental readiness.
According to the Environmentalist theory, children are ready for kindergarten when they demonstrate that they are emotionally ready to handle the structure and peer interaction in the public school. This is, according to the theory, because children learn when they are guided through teacher-led learning activities. Rote activity, practice and repetitive exposure would be the best ways to educate a child. According to this theory, parents should help their child to follow rules, behave appropriately in a group and respond obediently to the directions given by a teacher in order to be sure that their children are ready for kindergarten. Some of the original supporters of this theory were B.F. Skinner and John Watson.
Many educators today will recognize the names of Jean Piaget and Maria Montessori who were some of the original supporters of the Constructivist theory. This theory suggests that children learn best by interacting with their environment. According to these theorists, children are active participants in the advancement of their education and that the children themselves are often responsible for instigating their learning activities. Teachers following the Constructivist theory will focus more on providing an appropriate learning environment for the children then trying to establish whether a child is prepared or not.
In today's classroom, parents and children are likely to find elements of all of these theories, and others, implemented in some way. They are also likely to recognize that they lean more heavily toward one theory than another. Recognizing this preference will help parents to focus on the skills they are most concerned that their child develops and the most appropriate ways to encourage that development.