Brain research and full day kindergarten

Education is an important aspect of the human life and society. Today, it is quite noticeable how the society has institutionalized education and the educational system. Today, individuals start schooling as early as four or five years of age. The common entry point for schooling is kindergarten. All around the world, many parents send their children to schools for kindergarten, with many different expectations, but mostly in the belief that this is a solid starting point that can help the child be ready for the next step in his or her education.

Over the years, kindergarten has become increasingly important, especially during the time when researchers have found out the connection on dendrite growth and academic stimulation. This made them believe that if individuals are submitted to academic stimulation in the earliest time possible, this can impact significantly his mental faculty and capacity. Brain development has been responsible for the new perspective and approach to kindergarten leading the change and shift from half day to full day.

However, it appears that in analysis, even with the merit of this model hypothetically, unanimous approval and appreciation for this scheme is still to be achieved considering how sectors of the society are reacting differently and in varied fashion regarding this issue. This is an important aspect of discussion and exploration regarding full day kindergarten scheme and the brain development premise. History Kindergarten Kindergarten came to America from Germany, the term meaning children’s garden.

Friedrich Froebel and Margethe Meyer Schurz are two of the leading personalities who began the practice of kindergarten (Persky, Golubchick, 1991, p. 263). As the name implies, it refers to a system and a place wherein children are brought together and is being prepared for formal schooling. Kindergarten, as a form of preparatory stage, at first, was focused on making children possess sufficient social skills to allow them to interact correctly with other individuals during formal schooling.

Kindergarten education prepares them by teaching basic things which they will need in formal schooling and will serve as foundation of what they will learn and how they will learn in formal schooling. Kindergarten eventually spread all around the world. Educators working in kindergarten follow learning models as well as educational theories that make the kindergarten experience useful and constructive for the child. Kindergarten originally was just a half day session, with educators thinking that half a day is enough schooling for individuals this age (Persky, Golubchick, 1991, p.

263). This was changed when scientists put forward the discovery involving the brain and its development (Eden, 2008, p. 214). During this stage and age, the role of intervention and the resulting conclusion that if this was the case, then it is important that the child is correctly and sufficiently prepared, therefore the shift from half day to all-day or full day or whole day kindergarten scheme. Half day to full day kindergarten

From purely being half-day sessions, changes and developments and new perspectives regarding kindergarten education surfaced and resulted in the change from half day to all-day or whole day sessions. There were two important factors that led to the shift from half day to whole day or all-day kindergarten – the scientific basis and the practical basis. No one knows for sure which came first. Is the practical need for all-day kindergarten inspired researchers to look at any possible scientific credence this option might possess?

Or was it the other way around and was a case of scientific intuition among professionals leading to the discovery of the scientific basis for

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all day kindergarten? This, in turn, made parents realize that besides the scientific basis, this option also has practical significance for them and the children that support and popularity for all-day kindergarten grew especially across America, as well as in other parts of the world. Regardless of this chicken-and-egg condition, it is nonetheless important to discuss both aspects affecting the creation of and the shaping of all-day kindergarten as it is known to day.

a. Scientific basis – The main artery of the shift from half day to all day or whole day kindergarten is based on the discovery on the brain, in particular, the development that is happening in the brain when it is being subjected to academic stimulation at an early age. Professionals who were involved in this scientific study explain that dendrites grew when under academic stimulation. Dendrites are found in the brain. They are important in the learning ability and processes of the human beings. Their development is important in the mental faculty of an individual.

In layman’s terms, the growth and branching out of dendrites indicate active mental practices and exercises which in turn allows for improved processes of the mental faculty or thinking. Professionals as well as neuroscientists have already connected the growth and branching out of dendrites when under academic stimulation. This is proof that when the brain is exposed to academic stimulation or learning process especially in the early formative years, the physiological make up of the individual, particularly the brain develops and adjusts depending on what it is being subjected to.

Therefore the child’s mind is subjected to longer academic stimulation that can be an important factor for mental growth and capability in the future. This is the main premise of the scientific basis of the full day kindergarten scheme. Professionals argue that it is important that “we must look at our children’s entry point into education (Miller, Gore, 2007, p. 140). ” “New research into brain development demonstrates that the first three years of a child’s life are extremely critical for her emotional and intellectual growth (Miller, Gore, 2007, p. 140)” which necessitated the need for “all day kindergarten programs (Miller, Gore, 2007, p.

140). ” People involved in it – Educators, psychologists, neuroscientists and different professionals have been involved in the studies leading to this particular discovery and in the creation of a new perspective in kindergarten. “Today’s early childhood educators recognize children as active learners, not jugs waiting to be filled or blank slates waiting to be written upon (Handelman, Auerbach 2000, p. 4). ” Individuals like David Sousa as well as many other professionals came forward in support of this new notion regarding brain development and the need for a whole day kindergarten schedule and the merits of this kind of scheme.

Professionals explain that it is understandable why such discovery was only made today because of many important considerations, one of which is the ethical as well as technological considerations on the ability of the human to understand the brain. In the past and without the technology for non-invasive and ethical brain study procedures, scientists are left with the one and only option available for them – to study brains from dead people. This option left them with very limited areas of research and study, and no prospect at all at studying the human brain while it is still alive and in motion.

However, because of the current technology and scientific processes and abilities available to scientists today, the brain is now accessible for exploration in such a way that it is not unethical, immoral and non-invasive. This led the scientists to what they recently discovered about dendrite activity and its connection with academic stimulation. b. Practical basis – Besides the scientific basis, there is also the practical basis that was used by parents and educators in approving the full day scheme.

This has something to do with the current family and parent socio-economic and socio-cultural conditions. Economy has made it a necessity for both parents to work at the same time. This allows the parents money to send their children to good schools which they hope can look after their children while they are at work. Parents believe that full day kindergarten is like hitting two birds with one stone. First, their child is exposed to extended periods of studying and education and has limited time for other things that are harmful to the child in the long run like watching television, for example.

At the same time, parents are more assured of their child’s safety and well being since they are at school, attended by teachers who are trained to handle children. While this does not fully eliminate the use of nanny or a household helper, parents believe that besides the children, parents are also benefited in particular, specific ways through this scheme (Lerner, Jacobs, Wertlieb, 2003, p. 202). “Full day kindergarten was introduced to speak to the needs of the growing number of working parents who wanted their children to be looked after for the whole day (Lerner, Jacobs, Wertlieb, 2003, p. 202). ” Full day kindergarten today

Today, many schools all around the United States, as well as in many other different countries that feature kindergarten in their school and education system, use the all-day or whole day kindergarten scheme. It adheres to the idea presented by scientists, psychologists and educators who believe that exposing children to longer educational experiences at school can help improve the mind and improve the capacity of the individual for learning and mental processes in the future. The full day kindergarten scheme has attracted many supporters who called for the institutionalization of full day kindergarten schemes.

Organizations, groups and institutions, such as the Education Commission of the States or simply the ECS (Neal, 2006, p. 117), support the full day kindergarten. The shift from half day to all-day or whole day kindergarten session is not just merely an extension of time, nor was it a quantum leap in the learning experience for the kindergarten. Part of the change in session was the realization that teaching style, educational approach and learning perspectives should also change. It should focus more on the newfound consciousness regarding the learning ability of a child and the importance of maximizing it in the earliest possible time.

Because of this, kindergarten changed. From focusing in learning through play in the past, the learning structure of kindergarten became more oriented in structured academic learning. This means that part of the learning experience included learning languages and mathematics as well as other things like color and shape cognition and identification, memorization skills, interpersonal skills, play, even good morals and conduct and religion in other kindergarten schools and institutions (Persky, Golubchick, 1991, p.

263). “These early kindergarten programs focused on the basic concept that child’s play was significant and that when it was intelligently directed gave impetus to cognitive development (Persky, Golubchick, 1991, p. 263). ” From this point, the perspective changed and focused more on academic learning. This move towards change was hinged on the scientific discovery regarding the brain of the child and how in that stage the brain should begin the experience of being harnessed.

When the individual grows up and matures, he or she will possess the mental capacity for competitive and capable learning and is suitable for more advanced learning in the future. Today’s full day kindergarten, despite its admirable background and history, is nonetheless facing many different problems as well as criticisms. Professionals involved in this field undertake many different studies to be able to find answers to these problems and to address the different criticisms hurled at the practice of full-day kindergarten.

a. Studies regarding all day kindergarten – Authors like Cryan (1992) and Elicker and Mathur (1997) provide the people with materials they can read and refer to when considering full day kindergarten scheme and their opinion about it (Cryan, 1992, p. 187; Elicker and Marthur 1997, p. 459). These authors as well as many other authors have come up with results of studies, research and analysis tackling this matter both in books as well as in peer reviewed journals.

Psychologists and educators appear to have undertaken intensive study and research efforts regarding the different aspects of all-day kindergarten so that they can discover new information regarding this practice that can help in determining what new course of action to take with regards to the full-day kindergarten scheme. There are currently numerous published works as well as books and even internet articles about the results of studies and research efforts focused on full day kindergarten. In general, the content of these materials stand in two polar regions.

There are those that attest to the positive impact of this scheme; while on the other hand, there are those who present criticisms as well as new areas of investigation which they believe is important. These realms that they identified remain unexplored. This means that full day kindergarten scheme cannot be considered to be fully ideal and suitable, not until all areas of inquiry and possible sources of problem are identified, studied and resolved. b. Criticisms and problems – The full day kindergarten scheme was not without criticisms as well as its own set of problems.

Parents are one of the most important groups that can strengthen or derail the progress and practice of full day kindergarten. They also became sources of important criticisms and arguments regarding full day kindergarten scheme. One of the most basic areas of standoff resulting to criticisms of this scheme is the resulting tug of war between parents who want two different things for their children – those who want to keep kindergarten at half day while those who wanted schools to shift to whole day or full day kindergarten (Lerner, Jacobs, Wertlieb, 2003, p. 202).

“The introduction of full day kindergarten more than a decade ago has brought to a head an ongoing controversy between parents who want half day program and those who want the full day program (Lerner, Jacobs, Wertlieb, 2003, p. 202). ” Some parents point out that despite what scientific research claims as the ideal learning time and opportunity, a child is presented and should be exposed to at that age. Parents argue and reason that scientific research, on the other hand, has not fully answered the query regarding the effect to the children of being removed from their biological parents for that long period of time.

They still could not explain the effects as well as possible problems that can arise when children are constantly under the care of someone they do not know and does not know the child, even with the fact that they are certified professional and capable educators (Lerner, Jacobs, Wertlieb, 2003, p. 202). “Parents… look at kindergarten in the traditional way and regard full day away from home as too much time for a 5-year old to spend in the care of a non parental adult (Lerner, Jacobs, Wertlieb, 2003, p.

202). ” There are also those who pointed out that full day kindergarten does not automatically mean dramatic change in learning and development. The main supporting ideas for the establishment of this kind of approach to kindergarten education is about the scientific claims on improved and increased brain development via academic stimulation. Part of the equation (and an important part) is curriculum, teaching styles and methods as well as other equally important factors like teacher competency, environment.

Eden (2008) pointed out in a book that “providing a full day program for four year olds, for example, has much merit, but not if what is provided is simply watered-down first-grade curriculum (Eden, 2008, p. 214). ” Conclusion The work of the forerunners of the concept of kindergarten has come a long way. Today, it is something that appears to have evolved significantly over time, with many different important changes. This includes the change happening during the 90s – the shift from half day to full day kindergarten school time.

Like many complex issues in the society, the debate over which between half day and full day kindergarten scheme is better. There is also a debate if full day kindergarten schedule by itself and outside of comparison is ideal for children and their welfare is a topic that is not easily answerable by a yes or a no. There are many gray areas and dark areas that are yet to be discovered and explored so that more answers are available for people to use in this particular decision and position.

Nonetheless, the brain development and its connection to education in early childhood is an important breakthrough that can impact education for years. As for kindergarten, the newfound scientific perspective has made it clear that even the humble and previously seemingly non-bearing educational experience which is kindergarten appears to be, after all, something that holds a significant importance in the mental development of the individual. This is something that professionals should look on and design carefully in the future, for the benefit of the child above anyone else.

References Cryan, J. (1992). Success outcomes of full day kindergarten: More positive behavior and increased achievement in the years after. Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 2, 187-203. Eden, S. T. (2008). Play Works: Helping Children Learn Through Play. Indiana: Author House. Elicker, J. and Mathur, S. (1997). What do they do all they? Comprehensive evaluation of a full-day kindergarten. Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 4, 459-480. Handelman, M. S. and Auerbach, J. J. (2000). Jewish Every Day: The Complete Handbook for Early Childhood Teachers.

Colorado: Behrman House, Inc. Lerner, R. M. , Jacobs, F. and Wertlieb, D. (2003). Handbook of applied developmental science: promoting positive child, adolescent, and family development through research, policies, and programs, Volume 1. California: SAGE. Miller, J. and Gore, A. (2007). The Compassionate Community: Ten Values to Unite America. New York: Palgrave Macmillan. Neal, R. G. (2006). The Deserved Collapse of Public Schools. Indiana: Author House. Persky, B. and Goubchick, L. , H. (1991). Early Childhood education. Maryland: University Press of America.

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