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In North Carolina, "Preschool is the New Kindergarten"

So says Asheville parent columnist Mike McWilliams in a Jan. 3 Citizen-Times story, paraphrasing a local preschool teacher. Apparently, promoting kindergarten readiness is a hot trend among Asheville preschools. McWilliams talked to a number of teachers and parents to suss out their perspectives on the increased academic expectations for kindergartners. While one or two commented on the change and noted that kindergarten should still be a place "for a kid to be a kid," most simply acknowledged they are doing their best to address current realities, meaning pressure from K-12 to increase academic expectations and content.

"Kindergarten used to be for playtime, with a focus on social, emotional transitions, but increasing emphasis on meeting standardized test benchmarks in the third grade has really trickled down and impacted academic expectations of these brand-new students," said Mica Waters-Carter, a preschool teacher who plans to open her own school in August. BrainChild PreK is her effort to balance those expectations with play. "This is in no way a critique of public schools, and especially not of all those amazing teachers out there; it's just an effort to prepare for the reality of the conventional educational experience."

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