Should Math Be a Main Focus in Kindergarten?

Should kindergartners put away the building blocks and open the math books? According to recent research, earlier is better when it comes to learning mathematical concepts. But that could put undue pressure on kids, parents and even teachers.

Find available tutors

kindergarten math early childhood education

Too Academic?

There was a time when math, literacy and other subjects were saved for later grades, but those times are gone now. Much of what was once covered in first grade is now being introduced in kindergarten; even, as one researcher recently told The Huffington Post, 'preschool is becoming too academic.'

The new Common Core Standards, which are being adopted by nearly every state in the country, outline instructional math time for kindergartners. This includes shapes, number comparisons, sequential counting, measurement and addition and subtraction.

Kindergarten classes are also exposing students to calendars and clocks, even though, as PBS.org points out, 'they're not fully able to tell time or even realize exactly what a month or a second is.'

'Promoting Later Achievement'

So why expose kindergartners to concepts they simply are not ready to grasp?

Preparation, some say. Such early exposure gets kids ready for more difficult problems later in their academic careers. Show them a time line or other simple concepts now, for example, and it is believed they'll better understand things like addition and subtraction later.

And according to a study by University of California Irvine professor Greg Duncan, math is more important than social development and even reading when it comes to academic success later in life. 'Math stood out as serving the kids best in promoting later achievement,' Duncan told The Huffington Post in December 2011. 'It was very surprising.'

Pushing Students Might 'Backfire'

Despite the research, is there an advantage to 'pushing' kindergartners too hard academically? Some say no.

In July 2010 Joan Almon, then-executive director of the Alliance for Childhood, a nonprofit organization that promotes healthy child development, told MSNBC.com 'there is research showing if you push 4- and 5-year olds too hard, it backfires.'

A report issued by the Alliance for Childhood earlier that year claimed that the changes to kindergarten over the past 20 years or so had transformed it into a 'pressure-cooker' and a 'place of stress and distress.'

All Work, No Play

Another concern about increased math instruction in kindergarten is that it takes away from all-important play time. And advocates of play say that the abilities and skills developed through this activity are also critical for success later in life.

'Through play children take on every aspect of life,' Almon said.

Behavioral changes in kindergartners have been noted as a result of stress; stress, some say, that results from too many expectations placed on them. And parents, too, are stressed. One mother told MSNBC.om that she enrolled her child in summer tutoring classes for math and reading...before her child even started kindergarten!

So, will teaching math to kindergartners help or hinder them? Will they, and their parents, be too stressed out, or will the experience help them down the road? Time will tell...but for now, as research and the Common Core Standards indicate, early learning seems to be something that kindergartners can count on.

Did you find this useful? If so, please let others know!

Other Articles You May Be Interested In

  • More Blog Articles
    MIND Games Lead to Math Gains

    Imagine a math teaching tool so effective that it need only be employed twice per week for less than an hour to result in huge proficiency gains. Impossible, you say? Not so...and MIND Research Institute has the virtual penguin to prove it.

  • More Blog Articles
    Not Your Father's Algebra As 45 States Look to Math Reform

    One plus one will always equal two...but just how students are taught math is going to change. Nearly every state in the country has adopted the Common Core Standards; for math, this means new and more in-depth approaches to teaching the subject. Have we seen the last of traditional algebra and geometry classes?

We Found 7 Tutors You Might Be Interested In

Huntington Learning

  • What Huntington Learning offers:
  • Online and in-center tutoring
  • One on one tutoring
  • Every Huntington tutor is certified and trained extensively on the most effective teaching methods
In-Center and Online

K12

  • What K12 offers:
  • Online tutoring
  • Has a strong and effective partnership with public and private schools
  • AdvancED-accredited corporation meeting the highest standards of educational management
Online Only

Kaplan Kids

  • What Kaplan Kids offers:
  • Online tutoring
  • Customized learning plans
  • Real-Time Progress Reports track your child's progress
Online Only

Kumon

  • What Kumon offers:
  • In-center tutoring
  • Individualized programs for your child
  • Helps your child develop the skills and study habits needed to improve their academic performance
In-Center and Online

Sylvan Learning

  • What Sylvan Learning offers:
  • Online and in-center tutoring
  • Sylvan tutors are certified teachers who provide personalized instruction
  • Regular assessment and progress reports
In-Home, In-Center and Online

Tutor Doctor

  • What Tutor Doctor offers:
  • In-Home tutoring
  • One on one attention by the tutor
  • Develops personlized programs by working with your child's existing homework
In-Home Only

TutorVista

  • What TutorVista offers:
  • Online tutoring
  • Student works one-on-one with a professional tutor
  • Using the virtual whiteboard workspace to share problems, solutions and explanations
Online Only

Our Commitment to You

  • Free Help from Teachers

  • Free Learning Materials

  • Helping Disadvantaged Youth