Eight ways kindergarten holds the key to 21st-century instruction

Here are eight important pillars of a 21st-century education that can be found in most kindergarten classrooms every day.

I was recently giving a workshop at a local elementary school. While walking around and speaking to teachers and children, it suddenly dawned on me that several of the “revolutionary” educational changes we’ve been calling for have actually been around for quite a while—just talk a stroll down to the kindergarten classes.

If only the rest of school looked a little more like those classrooms. In fact, eight important pillars of a 21st-century education can be found in most kindergarten classrooms every day of the week:

1. Play

The first rule of kindergarten is to have fun. Our youngest students love coming to school, and if any child doesn’t seem happy, then we make it a high priority to find and remedy the problem. Play is a highly effective method of informal learning that requires imagination and creativity. Happy, playful children are not daydreaming and clock watching—they are engaged and absorbed in their activities.

As children get older, however, play starts taking a back seat to “academics” … which are usually priorities determined by people in offices far away from the students’ actual classroom environment.

2. Create

Creativity is becoming lost in the shuffle of the current “back to basics” school movement. While certainly required in any artistic endeavor, creativity is also a highly essential coping skill for our rapidly changing lives in the 21st century—not to mention a highly coveted skill among 21st-century employers.

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