What Should Be Learned in Kindergarten?


The Kindergarten Curriculum

The developmental characteristics of children of kindergarten age call for a curriculum that involves a variety and balance of activities that can be provided in the context of project work (Katz and Chard, 1989). For example, kindergarten children can undertake projects in which they investigate a real event or object. In the course of such projects, the children will strengthen emerging literacy and numeracy skills and their speaking and listening skills and acquire new words as they share their findings with others.

A good curriculum provides activities that include:

  • Integrated topic studies, rather than whole-group instruction in isolated skills;
  • Opportunities for children to learn by observing and experimenting with real objects;
  • A balance of child- and teacher-initiated activities;
  • Opportunities for spontaneous play and teacher-facilitated activities;
  • Group projects in which cooperation can occur naturally;
  • A range of activities requiring the use of large and small muscles;
  • Exposure to good literature and music of the children's own cultures and of other cultures represented in the class;
  • Authentic assessment of each child's developmental progress;
  • Opportunities for children with diverse backgrounds and developmental levels to participate in whole-group activities; and
  • Time for individuals or small groups of children to meet with the teacher for specific help in acquiring basic reading, writing, mathematical, and other skills as needed.

A major challenge for schools concerned with the best use of children's time in kindergarten is the provision of meaningful teaching and learning activities. The wide range of physical, social, and intellectual characteristics represented in a group of contemporary beginning kindergartners makes an informal, flexible approach to the kindergarten curriculum necessary.

Where Can Parents Find Out More About Kindergarten Practices?

  • ERIC Clearinghouse on Elementary and Early Childhood Education
    University of Illinois
    College of Education
    805 West Pennsylvania Avenue
    Urbana, IL 61801-4897
    (217) 333-1386
  • National Association for the Education of Young Children
    1834 Connecticut Ave NW
    Washington, DC 20009-2460
  • Association for Childhood Education International
    11501 Georgia Ave, Suite 315
    Wheaton, MD 20902


Abstracts of the following journal articles and documents are available in the ERIC database. Journal articles, marked with EJ, can be found at most research libraries. Documents, marked with ED, can be found on microfiche at more than 900 locations or ordered in paper copy or microfiche from the ERIC Document Reproduction Service. Call 1-800-LET-ERIC for more details.

  • Karweit, N. (March 1992). "The Kindergarten Experience: Synthesis of Research." Educational Leadership, 49 (6), 82-86. EJ 441 182.
  • Katz, L. G. (1989). Pedagogical Issues In Early Childhood Education. ED 321 840.
  • Katz, L. G. and S. D. Chard (1992). The Project Approach. ED 340 518.
  • Katz, L. G. and S. D. Chard (1989). Engaging Children's Minds: The Project Approach. Norwood, NJ: Ablex Publishing Corporation.
  • Moyer, J., H. Egertson, and J. Isenberg (April 1987). "The Child-Centered Kindergarten: Association for Childhood Education International Position Paper." Childhood Education, 63 (4), 235-242. EJ 357 171.
  • National Association for the Education of Young Children (January 1988). "NAEYC Position Statement on Developmentally Appropriate Practice in the Primary Grades, Serving 5- Through 8-Year-Olds." Young Children, 43 (2), 64-84. EJ 365 176.
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