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Distinctions between Academic and Intellectual Goals for Young Children

by Lilian G. Katz
November/December 2015
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Article Link: http://www.childcareexchange.com/article/distinctions-between-academic-and-intellectual-goals-for-young-children/5022618/

A strong trend has emerged in our country, and some other countries as well, to focus on the readiness of young children for school by introducing them to academic instruction activities during the preschool years. I suggest that the issue involved here is not simply choosing between academic instruction and traditional free play activities. This debate about appropriate preschool curricula is based on a misleading dichotomy: between offering young ­children formal academic instruction versus child-centered play — or simple activities such as cutting and pasting. I suggest that a more useful way of looking at the choices in preschool and kindergarten curriculum approaches is to think about distinctions between academic and intellectual goals and activities, especially during the early years, as well as the important place of spontaneous play. 

Academic Goals

Academic goals are those concerned with acquiring small discrete bits of information, usually related to pre-literacy skills, like the alphabet, counting, simple numbers, and talking about the calendar and days of the week that must be practiced for mastery. Worksheets, drills, and other kinds of exercises designed to prepare them for later literacy and numeracy learning are included in the academically-oriented curriculum. In such a curriculum the items learned and practiced require ...

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