98.3 percent of Wisconsin communities provide free 4K

With the addition of three public school districts offering 4-year-old kindergarten (4K) to children and their families for the 2017-18 school year, Wisconsin now has 98.3 percent of communities that provide free public education to 4-year-olds. “Research is clear that young children develop important skills and gain a foundation for future learning through 4-year-old kindergarten programs,” said State Superintendent Tony Evers. “Quality 4K offers rich experiences, including play-based learning that helps kids learn to work cooperatively and get along as well as expanding academic knowledge. This truly sets the stage for future success.”

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Why have they taken the fun out of kindergarten?

Kindergarten was designed as an introduction to schooling, and one that should help children discover that learning can be fun. But many believe that kindergarten has become the new first grade, and that pressure on schools to demonstrate student progress, even at the kindergarten level, has led schools to take the playfulness out of kindergarten. This week, Wisconsin Public Radio examined this issue by interviewing Christopher Brown, an associate professor of curriculum and instruction in early childhood education at the University of Texas at Austin, who says that heightened standards have pushed some teachers to forgo the emphasis on play and spend much more time on structured learning, a trend that is exhausting both children and teachers.

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95 percent of public school districts now offer 4K

Statewide 95 percent of public school districts that provide elementary education offer 4-year-old kindergarten (4K), an increase of five school districts from the previous school year. “Wisconsin is approaching universal 4K, driven by communities that want to meet the early learning needs of children and their families,” said State Superintendent Tony Evers.

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