Advocates of the longer day want to give children opportunities for "the rich, interactive, socio-dramatic play that helps them in all aspects of learning," said Doris Fromberg
, who has written books on early childhood education."That's been marginalized," said Fromberg, an education professor at Hofstra University and president of the National Association of Early Childhood Teacher Educators Foundation.
"Instead of broadening the curriculum, it's narrowing it to very specific skills that are isolated and really do not conform to the way young children learn."
Sneaking in art, music
Dramatic play, often dismissed as "enrichment" in a back-to-basics world, teaches literacy skills, as well as math and science to young children in ways that book learning alone does not, Fromberg
At one exemplary classroom she
visited, a kindergarten exercise was inspired by students' fascination with their teacher's newly permed hair.The children created a beauty parlor, wrote signs offering "permz for $1.99" and created appointment books, price lists and receipts.
"That's building their skills," she
said, "and it's so powerful."Fromberg
, whose work takes her
to dozens of kindergarten classrooms every year, sees fewer blocks and play centers--exactly the reverse, she
said, of what she
would have seen a decade ago.And in recent years, she
has begun to hear from former students--new teachers who say they are under pressure to abandon the practices they were trained to use in order to consider ideal instructional methods for young children.