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Pre-school graduation: Sad symptom of accelerated childhood

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Peter Cihelka/The Free Lance-Star/AP

(Read caption) On May 15, 2012, Kensy Vaquez, left, Morgan Taylor, center, and Tyasia Spencer, walk under a bridge formed by parents at the close of a Stafford County Head Start graduation ceremony in Stafford County, Va. The bridging ceremony is an age-appropriate ritual for kids graduating from preschool and kindergarten.

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When Frederick Froebel invented kindergarten, in early 1800s Germany, he pioneered the idea of early childhood education — of reaching children during a period of dramatic brain development and introducing a holistic style of learning through play, music, movement, paperfolding and games. He recognized that children learn differently from one another (the precursor to Multiple Intelligence theory), and that one child may learn best by sorting objects, another by talking with peers, and another through sensory experiences like physical movement and touch. He influenced Maria MontessoriRudolf Steiner (whose work led to Waldorf Schools), and the Reggio Emilia approach to education, all of which are popular and well regarded today.

Kindergarten, as recently as many of our own childhoods, was a laboratory of discovery and social skills, as well as the preparation for grade school.

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