Rae Pica wrote an excellent column about the disconnect between current education policies and well-established principles of child development. Rae has written a book that I read last weekend in galleys, called What If Everybody Understood Child Development? (Corwin Press); it will be published in June.

 

In this article, she makes a straightforward point: Children develop at different rates. They are not identical. There is a range of “normal” development.

 

She writes:

 

Did you know that there are 90 reading standards for kindergartners under Common Core and that allkindergartners will be expected to read under these standards?

 

I don’t know why I’m surprised. In an interview on BAM Radio Network several years ago, noted early childhood expert Jane Healy told me, “We have a tendency in this country to put everybody into a formula – to throw them all into the same box and have these expectations that they’re all going to do the same thing at the same time.”

 

For the most part, that’s always been the case with education: expecting all children in the same grade to master the same work at the same level and pace. But since the inception of No Child Left Behind – and now with Race to the Top and the implementation of the Common Core Standards (“common” being the operative word) – it’s only gotten worse. The “box” has gotten even smaller. And the younger the children, the less room there is for movement inside it. (Play on words intended.)…

 

Standards are written by people with little to no knowledge of child development or developmentally appropriate practice. They’re written with too little input from people who do have that knowledge – like teachers and child development experts. In fact, of the 135 people on the committees that wrote and reviewed the K-3 Common Core Standards, not one was a K-3 teacher or an early childhood professional….

 

As an example demonstrating the large range of what is “normal” in child development, Marcy [Guddemi, of the Gesell Institute for Child Development] explains that the average age at which children learn to walk is 12 months – 50 percent before and 50 percent after. But the range that is normal for walking is 8-3/4 months all the way to 17 months. The same applies for reading. The average age at which children learn to read is six-and-a-half – again, 50 percent before and 50 percent after.

 

I suggest you pre-order a copy of Rae Pica’s book. It is filled with research-based, commonsense wisdom.