Preschool Rules

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You can trace the battle over preschool education in this country to the late 1880s. Teachers and parents disagree about whether little Johnny should be spending more time learning his A-B-C’s and 1-2-3’s or playing house.

What’s changed in the last few years is the overall push toward more testing and higher standards, stemming from anxiety from parents and administrators alike that American kids are failing behind fast.

Critics of programs like Head Start and No Child Left Behind say that mentality has now trickled down to the preschool classroom and it’s no good for today’s kids who should be spending more time playing, especially to develop some much needed social skills. Examining whether Americans are pushing kids too early, too hard.


David Elkind, Professor of Child Development at Tufts University

Steven Barnett, Director of the National Institute for Early Education Research at Rutgers University