Christopher Brown, an associate professor of Curriculum and Instruction in Early Childhood Education University of Texas at Austin, wants policymakers and schools to make more time for kindergartners to play.

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Compared with 20 years ago, kindergarten teachers are being pressured to pack in more instructional time for their students, and the kindergarten classroom is looking more like a first-grade one.

Christopher Brown, a parent and an early childhood education professor at University of Texas in Austin, has studied what’s happening in today’s kindergarten classrooms, and writes that new standards and tests have changed the learning priorities.

He writes that he’s watched “student-led projects, sensory tables… and dramatic play areas” get replaced with “teacher-led instructional time, writing centers and sight word lists that children need to memorize.”

As part of Brown’s research, he interviewed one public-school kindergarten teacher who said she has to continually assess her students for quarterly report cards, and reading and math assessments from the school, the district and the state.

When Brown asked her students what they were learning, almost all of them said they wanted more time to play.

He says students who ask for that aren’t attempting to get out of work.  Rather, he said, “they’re asking for a chance to recharge as well as be themselves.”

Read more about Brown’s research here.