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Gillispie School / Early Childhood  / No, Preschool is NOT “The New Kindergarten”

No, Preschool is NOT “The New Kindergarten”

It’s tough to be a kid today. So many expectations, so much pressure. Consider that in many places preschool, a place that should be filled with play, imagination, and creativity, is frequently being labeled as “The New Kindergarten”. These preschoolers are forced to move at a fast-forward pace, drilled on letters and math, reading before their eyes are ready, often maintaining busier schedules than adults.

Then, it’s off to elementary school, where the pressure is on to catch up, keep up, or stay ahead. After school, the second-shift begins with more than an hour of homework– stressful if it is too difficult, boring if it is to easy. “Family time” morphs into a battle to get work done, rather than time to refresh. Bedtimes get pushed back to get everything done and the lack of quality sleep starts to take its toll.

In her book, UnSelfie, Michele Borba, Ed. D. writes, “Our plugged-in, high-pressure culture is leading to a mental health epidemic among young people. One in five US youth meets the criteria for a mental disorder in their lifetime. Teen stress is now at higher levels than that reported by adults.”

Let that sink in. They’re more stressed than we are.

Aside from easing the anxiety epidemic, the methods we choose to educate our children can make a world of difference in their success in the future. According to the World Economic Forum’s Future of Jobs Report, the top three skills that will be needed by 2020 are:

  1. Complex problem solving
  2. Critical thinking
  3. Creativity

Moreover, 98% of kindergartners score as creative geniuses, but that the number drops to 3% once they reach the age of 25, largely as a result of an educational system focused too heavily on the development of cognitive skills.

Parents, what are we doing to our children?

It’s time to take a step back, let our kids be kids, and realize that the journey matters. Let’s stop defining “academic rigor” by how fast they move forward and how well they perform on tests. Instead, let’s focus on how deeply and creatively they can think. Let’s teach them to collaborate and communicate. Let’s teach them kindness, empathy, and compassion. Let’s ensure that they love learning by letting them be active participants, by incorporating play, and by letting them use their hands.  

The results will be… remarkable.


At Gillispie School, we believe that learning is a journey in which children are active participants. We balance a child-centered approach that does not rush childhood with well-researched academic programs that demand higher level thinking. We focus on social-emotional learning that develops strength of character, kindness towards others, and openness to diverse ideas and cultures.

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