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If my daughter learns so much in childcare, will she be bored in kindergarten?
Ruth Buffalo
If she is happy and is making good developmental progress in her current child care arrangement, I definitely would not take her out of it. Not only would she probably not get the intellectual stimulation she is obviously getting in her current preschool, but she would also miss her friends and the social atmosphere.

I think the solution to your possible problem can be found in both of the educational settings—the child care and her future kindergarten. First the kindergarten. In my article, “Kindergarten Then and Now,” I was trying to urge parents not to push their children to develop the early literacy skills before they enter kindergarten that they should be expected to have by the end of kindergarten. That doesn’t mean that, if a child has shown interest in reading while still in child care, this should be discounted when the child enters kindergarten. A high-quality child care program for 3- and 4-year-old children will always have several bright and developmentally advanced children who point to words and say, “What does that say,” and remember the answer. When this child reaches kindergarten, a truly creative teacher should begin to work with that child where she is rather than try to push her back down to the beginning.

Now for her child care. Although it is tempting with 4-year-olds to move ahead with early literacy activities (printing the alphabet, printing numbers and learning certain basic math concepts, etc.), there are many creative activities that can challenge the children without offering a watered-down kindergarten—art activities, learning songs and dances, putting on little plays, cooking, simple crafts, dictating stories, etc. Those are the kinds of enrichment activities I hope your daughter’s child care will offer. If so, she will be beautifully prepared for kindergarten but not likely to be bored.

Please understand that I am not phobic about having a very young child “learn to read,” as many early childhood specialists are. There are some children that simply can’t be deterred, and, in such instances, I say go ahead and let them make progress. Few things upset me more than having a rigid kindergarten teacher do everything possible to discredit a child’s early achievements and literally try to prevent opportunities for progress. As always with children, we have to strive for a balance. Your alertness to this as a possible problem assures me that you will identify any early indicators of a mismatch and act to correct the situation.
Dr. Bettye M. Caldwell Ph.D. Professor of Pediatrics in Child Development and Education