News moves fast in this world and the 24/7 availability of facts, alternative facts (lies), and propaganda that comes to us via social media when events are happening and people are trying to sort it out …

Legitimate news providers routinely post stories with the above headline as events unfold and they try to keep up with them.

This popped into GOT’s head yesterday as I attended a training in Youth Mental Health and we got into what has gone wrong during our break and lunch conversations.

What we now know:

  1. Pre-K and Kindergarten should be mostly playing. Kids need to play with their peers, get into disputes, and learn how to resolve their conflicts without adult mediation. That happens on the playground. That happens during play. Math and reading can wait. Socialization is the huge priority during these years.
  2. The Common Core and 20 plus years of school reform have forced schools to teach academic skills at these young ages before the children are ready, The tests are coming.
  3. Recess is crucial. Young children need the activity. Much of the ‘hyperactivity’ we see in the classroom is not due to ADD or ADHD, although those are real conditions for a certain percentage of children, but because children need to move. They have to be active. When we deny them those opportunities, it will manifest in fidgetiness and other problems.
  4. Social-emotional learning is the flavor of the day. Can we admit we can’t teach it, it has to be learned through experience, and that takes place on the playground at young ages when kids get into conflicts and have to learn ways to solve their own problems without violence?
  5. For schools to be successful, we have to build community. Restorative practices are not merely intervention or reintegration; they are prevention.
  6. Given the institutional needs of school systems to survive, leaders mandate an all-academics approach. Given the tests that determine who survives and who fails (not talking about the children), all the rest is driven out. If we want to create safe and supportive school environments, we have to give time for children to begin their day in circles to talk about how they’re feeling and what’s happened in their lives overnight.
  7. Elementary teachers report their mandates that their days are so structured they can barely hit all the required minutes in math and reading.
  8. As for secondary schools, these types of circles would work well … in homeroom.
  9. But secondary schools don’t have homeroom anymore. Once the first bell rings, we jump to the lesson. We can’t do otherwise because the curriculum cramming and testing regimes allow no time for that.
  10. We are seeing an increase in mental health issues, distress, and anxiety in our children because of these things.


3 thoughts on “What We Now Know

  1. All day kindergarten is the worst thing that has happened to children. My daughter was in the 3rd year of implementation when all day K was started and I was appalled at the seat time and the schedule that these babies had to abide by. By the time my son entered 2 years later, seat time was most of the day. The kids 5 years into the K experiment were crazy uncontrollable all the way through MS. Many of these kids (most boys) were deemed ADD (including my son) when all along what they needed was recess, movement and the time to solve their own problems/disputes with other students. My son is NOT ADD and we have pulled him out of public school and put him into private boy’s school for HS and he is thriving academically, socially and emotionally (without any slick SEL training methods) and for the first time ever, is loving school AND his teachers. It’s a shame that public schools want to just continue to do “the wrong thing righter” instead of admitting that they did wrong and reverse course.


  2. i agree that kids need more semi-structured time and physical activity.
    but it’s not at all clear to me that most teachers have what it takes to actually prevent or meaningfully address bullying.


  3. i agree that kids need more semi-structured time and physical activity.
    but it’s not at all clear to me that most teachers have what it takes to actually prevent or meaningfully address bullying.


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