Drill and Kill for Toddlers

Where to start? Where to start? One needn’t looking any further than the first photograph in Kate Zernike’s recent New York Times article, “Fast-Tracking to Kindergarten.” The poor munchkin in that picture looks so overwhelmed. And why shouldn’t she be? Developmentally, her mind and body are not ready for this work. I’m all for enrichment and supporting children’s growth, but we should be following the child’s lead, the topics that attract them and their developmental capabilities. A proficient educator can teach any number of skills through a variety of topics that originate with the children. Reading this article, I thought longingly of the days when after-school and summer activities were simply playing with friends and exploring the world.

As an educator, I encourage all parents to reflect on their children, run with their interests and expose them to a variety of experiences. In this way children build skills and self-esteem. Expecting toddlers and preschoolers to sit for long periods of time and do homework is developmentally inappropriate and has the potential to be emotionally and psychologically damaging. This article made me feel sad for the child, the parents, and our world. I’m not naive. I understand the pressure and the reality. Maybe it’s time we start pressuring parents and caregivers to let kids be kids. They’ll have plenty of time for drill and kill.