Research proposal on changes in kindergarten

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Brigit Rioual

Question: In the United States, how has the curriculum and expectations of kindergartners changed since the early 1900s? Why have these changes occurred?

Relevance: My research question is relevant to Ed 300 because the changes in kindergarten are very important to education and education reform. I remember kindergarten being very much play and not very much work. I don’t ever remember having homework, but I do remember learning basic spelling words. However, today, kindergarten is much different than 15 years ago when I was there. Kindergarteners are now being pressured to learn more material than they typically would, so they are ready for standardized testing in a few years. I’m interested in looking at the original intentions of creating kindergarten and how and why kindergarten has went from being mostly play, to being mostly work.

Research Strategy: I first went to the Trinity library webpage and went to Trinity Online Resources. I then went to Educational Studies, and clicked on Educational Full-Text. I first searched changes in kindergarten, and got a couple of articles. I then searched kindergarten AND changes AND curriculum and got two other articles. One of my articles gave me the idea to look at play, so I then searched kindergarten AND play AND curriculum. I then tried history AND kindergarten. I also went through the Hartford Courant databases and looking at how kindergarten has developed and changed in Connecticut for some specific examples.

Primary Sources:

Kindergarten schools. (1878, Oct 05). Hartford Daily Courant (1840-1887), pp. 2-2.

This source discusses kindergarten in St. Louis and the advantages it would have to Connecticut.

The free kindergarten. (1884, Mar 31). Hartford Daily Courant (1840-1887), pp. 2-2.

The first meeting in Connecticut after a year of starting kindergarten discussing the positives and negatives.


Secondary Sources:

Russell, Jennifer Lin. “From Child’s Garden to Academic Press: The Role of Shifting Institutional Logics in Redefining Kindergarten Education.” American Educational Research Journal 48, no. 2 (April 2011): 236–267.

This source discusses how kindergarten has changed historically from once being a transition year to being an important beginning of formal academics. This is important to my question because it addresses the changes in what kindergarteners are expected and how the curriculum has changed.

Hatch, J. Amos, and Evelyn B. Freeman. “Who’s Pushing Whom? Stress and Kindergarten.” Phi Delta Kappan 70 (October 1988): 145–147.

This source is interesting because it discusses stress on kindergartens in the change from relaxed curriculum to a structured academic curriculum. There is a fear that children are being pushed too early by parents and by society. This article seems as if it will give me a different outlook on why kindergarten has changed based on a psychological view point but also give me some background information on why parents and society are pushing children so young.

Miller, Edward, and Joan Almon. “Crisis in the Kindergarten: Why Children Need to Play in School.”Education Digest 75, no. 1 (2009): 42–45.

This article proposes that kindergarten is in trouble because they are being pressured by tests in math and reading and children need to go back to being able to play. They discuss the trouble pressuring the children to preform well on tests at such a young age and propose ways to fix kindergarten. They discuss the before and now also.

Curwood, Jen Scott. “What Happened to Kindergarten?” Instructor 117, no. 1 (2007): 28-32.

This source discusses how kindergarten has changed based on academic pressures of the 21st century and what has caused this change from kindergarten being more relaxed. They argue that academic pressures have a negative effect on kindergarten and they state what teachers can do to help their students.

Plevyak, Linda H., and Kathy Morris. “Why Is Kindergarten an Endangered Species?” Education Digest 67, no. 7 (March 2002): 23–26.

This source examines kindergarten today, being very much academic based and less play. Too many hours are being spent doing math and reading than before. It also discusses the pressures this is putting on their children, and on themselves. This article proposes that educators need to have more information on the development of children in kindergarten to make changes to the curriculum of kindergarten.

Hardy, Lawrence. “Q & A with Edward Miller, on the Importance of Play”, November 2009.

This Q&A discusses traditional kindergarten to todays kindergarten and how this change happened.

Jeynes, William H. “Standardized Tests and Froebel’s Original Kindergarten Model.” Teachers College Record 108, no. 10 (October 2, 2006): 1937–1959.

This discusses policies and how kindergarten has changed through the last couple of years. This is much more history based. This article discusses the found of kindergarten, his model, and how that has changed and developed since then.

“Friedrich Froebel: Founder, First Kindergarten”, September 2000.

A biography on Friedrich Froebel and his intentions through the creation of kindergarten.

Nawrotzki, Kristen D. “‘Like Sending Coals to Newcastle:’ Impressions from and of the Anglo-American Kindergarten Movements.” Paedagogica Historica 43, no. 2 (April 2007): 223–233.

History of Kindergarten in the US and Britain

Dombkowski, Kristen. “Will the Real Kindergarten Please Stand up?: Defining and Redefining the Twentieth-century US Kindergarten.” History of Education 30, no. 6 (November 2001): 527–545.

History of kindergarten in the US.

2 thoughts on “Research proposal on changes in kindergarten”

  1. Brigit, you’ve posed an interesting research question, but I recommend that you narrow it by time period and geography to help you focus on the core issues. For example you could revise it into something like this: “How do the learning goals and curriculum for kindergarten classrooms differ from the early 1900s to today, in the U.S. in general, and the City of Hartford in particular?” Framing the question this way allows you to compare 1900s vs. 2000s without the need to cover everything in between, which would not be possible in a writing assignment of this scope. Also, it allows you to work with secondary sources to identify national-level trends, and primary source newspaper articles for a special focus on Hartford.

    Great start with primary sources in Hartford Courant Historical (and I will post more about that later).

    The secondary sources you identified by Kristen Nawrotzki (formerly Dombkowski) are a good bet. See this link to her History of Education (2001) article

    You might also consider looking at one of these books:
    Barbara Beatty, Preschool Education in America: The Culture of Young Children from the Colonial Era to the Present (Yale Univ Press, 1995).

    Michael Steven Shapiro, Child’s Garden: The Kindergarten Movement from Froebel to Dewey (University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1983)

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