Just when we thought it was safe to follow the old dictum ‘just let kids be kids,’ we stumbled over this latest research from the University of Chicago in the American Educational Research Journal which indicates that only four days per month of advanced math and reading content in Kindergarten leads to better test scores in the higher grades. This study will be difficult for parents eager to get their children off to the best start to ignore.
But don’t panic, ‘advanced math and reading content’ doesn’t mean algebra and James Joyce’s Ulysses. According to Amy Claessens, assistant professor of public policy at Chicago University's Harris School of Public Policy Studies and primary author of this study, ‘advanced’ in this context simply refers to the fact that 50% of kids arriving in Kindergarten have already mastered the basic content; advanced means providing content a majority of children have not as yet mastered.
Ms Claessens said the advance in test scores ran true for all children including those who had participated in preschool programs like Head Start or came from low-income households. Ms Classen also went on to say that providing advanced content is the most inexpensive way to provide a better kindergarten experience. There is no need for longer days, more teachers or more buildings.
What this study didn’t say was how are we going to present this advanced content and still keep these young children interested. The best kindergarten teachers have always known that keeping young kids engaged was more than half the battle. Kids go to kindergarten to learn, alright, but they learn by playing and enjoying themselves, not listening to lectures. Has the time come for some EdTech innovations in kindergarten?
We here at RobotsLAB, developers of the RobotsLAB BOX, the 2014 LAUNCHedu Award winner at SXSWedu, not only believe that that time has come, we are developing robot-aided content for kindergarten that will keep younger kids engaged in learning math concepts as nothing else on the market. How do we know this? Because kids love robots. Robots are fun! Our RobotsLAB BOX has already proved its effectiveness in grades from elementary school through high school and beyond.
Recent research tells us Kindergarten needs to offer more than playschool. Only a few days of more challenging content can make a lot of difference in a child’s later school years. RobotsLAB believes we will soon have the EdTech teaching tool that can make that difference. Parents and teachers, keep an eye on this blog for information on something you are going to want to try!