There is no doubt that early childhood education has become more stringent in it's academic expectations in the past 10 years or so. We always tested high frequency words in 1st and 2nd Grade as a promotion standard-now we have a required Kindergarten list. Our students are expected to go from zero to 40 words per minute in 9 months time. I was in a training this week where we were encouraged to start testing them on math facts. We are actually teaching money and place value concepts now. They take monthly benchmarks in multiple choice, bubble in format several times per year. My evaluation is based on their growth on those tets. Forget about Kinder being the foundation of skill-building anymore.
Anyway, one point of contention is always kitchen centers. I've worked with teachers who just stuck it in a corner, or got rid of it entirely. I have fought to keep mine. You know I truly believe in challenging kids and in rigor. There is nothing rigorous about housekeeping centers, however, they do serve a vital purpose. The kids are practicing their oral language skills and vocabulary. They are practicing to be future moms and dads. And selfishly, I love to watch them play there! They use the old cell phones to tell their husbands how late they are for dinner. The scold the dolls for rolling their eyes. They cook me lunch! :) We had our Meet-and-Greet last week and where did all the kids go to play? You guessed it.
I got the cutest little wok set this year-bok choy that comes apart and all. I also got a toaster set that I probably shouldn't admit, but I think I bought it for the little wooden honey bear--how cute is that!
So as the powers-that-be make our jobs harder, I will hang on to those artifacts of the olden days when the main objective of Kindergarten was polishing social and fine motor skills. Call me crazy, but I think Kindergarten should still be fun!