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Academic Kindergarten

May 10, 1987

Joan Libman's article on kindergarten readiness ("In Kindergarten, Sometimes Older Is Better," April 28) struck a chord in me. As a kindergarten teacher, I am often asked to advise parents as to the readiness of their children for kindergarten.

Thirteen years ago, when I entered the field, the decision was an easy one: Is your child ready to follow directions? Skill ability was less of a criterion since the kindergarten curriculum was designed to promote the development of basic skills. Today, the question is: Is your child ready for first grade reading work? If he or she is not, chances are the child will be (or feel) behind.

Those who believe that children are different in the '80s are right. They are more aware and have had more experiences than did my kindergartners 13 years ago. I agree with those who favor academic kindergartens--if by academic we mean creative, thought-provoking, world-exploring, exciting environments for learning, not memorization of sight vocabulary and rote writing practice. The kind of kindergarten I describe allows for the catching up of those who lack certain developmental skills required for first grade work. (It should be noted that many early readers fit into this category.)

We need to design our kindergartens to suit the needs of children rather than re-evaluating the age at which children enter kindergarten.

WENDY ZACUTO

Sherman Oaks

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