Some Baltimore-Area Schools Are Making Kindergarten Chill Again

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There’s a growing backlash over the increasingly academic kindergarten curricula in which playtime is replaced with math and reading lessons that used to occur in first and second grades. Schools in Pasadena and Glen Burnie are rethinking that approach. They’re rolling out a new kindergarten curriculum in the fall that includes more opportunities for movement and play, the New York Times reports.

While that may be welcome news to parents who have been waiting for the academic pendulum to reverse course, not everyone is on board. The naysayers aren’t simply squares who obsess over test scores; they’re educators who worry over the effect that ditching academics may have on poor students.

“Middle-class parents are doing this anyway, so if we don’t do it for kids who are not getting it at home, then they are going to start at an even greater disadvantage,” Deborah Stipek, dean of the Graduate School of Education at Stanford, told the New York Times.

So the suburban middle-class can hate on Common Core all they want, their kids are going to learn to read and write no matter what.

Therese Iwancio, a teacher at Cecil Elementary in economically-depressed Greenmount, told the New York Times, “I have never had a child say to me, ‘I just want to play.’”

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  1. I read the NY Times article quoted, and Ms. Therese Iwancio sounds awful. I feel sorry for her students and the students of other teachers like her. “I have never had a child say to me, ‘I just want to play.’” Well, of course not, if you have every moment of your day scheduled into developmentally-inappropriate academic exercises…why would the children think that play is even an option? Sad.

  2. Thank you for covering this. Even more schools in Baltimore City are taking this approach, including the new Creative City Public Charter School ( in Park Heights. We embrace a play-based Kindergarten which has, in our first two years, not only worked well for our diverse, Title I-qualifying student body and has been embraced by students and families alike, but has also laid a solid foundation for all of the academic work that happens in Kindergarten and beyond for our youngest students.

  3. Proud to be a part of student centered learning including learning through play here in Anne Arundel County Public Schools!!

  4. There are play based programs that allow healthy movement without sacrificing academic rigor. Its all a question of when you introduce things.I invite both author and readers to come and visit the Waldorf School of Baltimore in Coldspring.We have had play based early childhood programs in Baltimore for the past 43 years. Our website is Our children engage in lots of healthy movement in the early childhood program, but also up though our 8th grade class. We can help children who need extra support, but a leg up doesn’t necessarily come in the form of early academics. People who really understand child development know this.We all know that its necessary for learning.Hope in the public system comes in the form of some of the charter schools that are offering other types of programs. Parent advocacy should not be dismissed. Keep shouting for what you want.

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