In the United States and Germany, kindergarten (German for garden of children) refers to the first level of a child's formal education. American kindergartens are usually administered in an elementary school as part of the K-12 educational system. Kindergarten establishments (day-care) in Germany are for pre-school children of all ages, and are often run by churches, city or town administrations.
Kindergartens (German plural Kindergärten) in Germany are not a part of the actual school system, as they are in the USA. The German translation of "pre-school", Vorschule, is used for educational efforts in the Kindergarten, which are handled differently in every German state.
The equivalent in England and Wales is reception. The Australian equivalent is the preparatory grade (commonly called 'grade prep' or 'prep'), which is the year before the first grade. In the state of New South Wales, however, it is called kindergarten. At least in Victoria, kindergarten (distinct from grade prep) is a form of, and used interchangeably with, pre-school.
Function of kindergarten
Youngsters, usually aged 4-6 attend kindergarten to learn the finer points of meeting friends (and enemies), professional authority (in the form of a teacher), playtime, naptime, drawing, music, sometimes the basics of reading and writing, and various other activities. For children who previously have spent most of their time at home, kindergarten often serves the purpose of training them to be apart from their parents without anxiety.
The youngster continues to Grade 1 after kindergarten.
Many private businesses in the USA name their day-care businesses 'Kindergarten' or 'Kindergarden'.
Kindergartens often last only for half a day (morning or afternoon), though in many locations there are full-day kindergartens.
What should kindergarten activities include?
There seem to be many positive learning and social/behavioral benefits for children in kindergarten programs. At the same time, it is widely felt that what children are doing during the kindergarten day is more important than the length of the school day. Gullo (1990) and Olsen and Zigler (1989) warn educators and parents to resist the pressure to include more didactic academic instruction in all-day kindergarten programs. They contend that this type of instruction is inappropriate for young children.
Also, an all-day kindergarten program can provide children the opportunity to spend more time engaged in active, child-initiated, small-group activities. Teachers in all-day kindergarten classrooms often feel less stressed by time constraints and may have more time to get to know children and meet their needs.
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- Elicker, J., & Mathur, S. (1997). What do they do all day? Comprehensive evaluation of a full-day kindergarten. Early CHILDHOOD RESEARCH QUARTERLY, 12(4), 459-480. EJ 563 073.
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- Gullo, D. F. (1990). The changing family context: Implications for the development of all-day kindergarten. YOUNG CHILDREN, 45(4), 35-39. EJ 409 110.
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- Koopmans, M. (1991). A STUDY OF THE LONGITUDINAL EFFECTS OF ALL-DAY KINDERGARTEN ATTENDANCE ON ACHIEVEMENT. Newark, NJ: Newark Board of Education. ED 336 494.
- Morrow, L. M., Strickland, D. S., & Woo, D. G. (1998). LITERACY INSTRUCTION IN HALF- AND WHOLE-DAY KINDERGARTEN. Newark, DE: International Reading Association. ED 436 756.
- Olsen, D., & Zigler, E. (1989). An assessment of the all-day kindergarten movement. EARLY CHILDHOOD RESEARCH QUARTERLY, 4(2), 167-186. EJ 394 085.
- Puleo, V. T. (1988). A review and critique of research on full-day kindergarten. ELEMENTARY SCHOOL JOURNAL, 88(4), 427-439. EJ 367 934.
- Towers, J. M. (1991). Attitudes toward the all-day, everyday kindergarten. CHILDREN TODAY, 20(1), 25-28. EJ 431 720.
- West, J., Denton, K., & Germino-Hausken, E. (2000). AMERICA'S KINDERGARTNERS [Online]. Washington, DC: National Center for Educational Statistics. Available: http://nces.ed.gov/pubs2000/2000070.pdf.
- Preparing for Kindergarten
- Recent Research on All-Day Kindergarten
- The Shifting Kindergarten Curriculum
- Readiness for Kindergarten
- Full-Day Kindergarten Programs
- Escalating Kindergarten Curriculum
- He Has a Summer Birthday: The Kindergarten Entrance Age Dilemma
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