Date of Award
Master of Arts in Education
Early Childhood Education
developmentally appropriate practices, early childhood education, mature dramatic play, play-based learning, push-down curriculum
Kindergarten’s original intention was to be a place where young children could learn and grow through a natural and playful setting. Kindergarten was designed to be a place where children could use various play materials to experiment with and learn about the world around them, all with minimal adult participation (Pyle, Prioletta, & Poliszczuk, 2018). However, with the greater demand on academic learning, assessments, and mandated benchmarks, play and exploration in the kindergarten classroom have diminished. Kindergartners are forced to learn through manners that are not developmentally appropriate, and it has been shown to have detrimental effects on children’s physical and mental health. This push-down of academics into kindergarten does not have research to prove the positive effects on future academics, instead it could be hampering those as well. This paper synthesized scholarly articles and research studies surrounding the positive effects of play-based learning in kindergarten and the detrimental effects of a kindergarten curriculum that is not developmentally appropriate. Some believe that academics need to be pushed into kindergarten to further academic success; however, these articles and research studies demonstrated that a play-based kindergarten curriculum can successfully promote developmentally appropriate academic achievements along with social-emotional successes for all children. Promoting the healthy development of the whole child through play-based teaching strategies allows children to be better prepared for future school and real-world success.