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Departmentalization at School

Elementary School Expert Advice from Barbara Potts

Q: My daughter started kindergarten this year and without our knowledge her school is trying departmentalization. There are five classrooms and each one is turned into a learning center. The children are rotated from class to class through the day, and the schedule changes each week to place each subject in the "prime learning hours" between 8 a.m. and 10 a.m. She was having a lot of anxiety and was not able to handle this curriculum, so we are not sending her anymore (it isn't mandatory). Where can we find on whether or not the departmentalization of young children is beneficial?

A: Most educators who work with young children and most child development experts would agree with you that kindergartners need consistency in their daily routine. They also need to form attachments with a teacher and a group of classmates. I would think that the situation you describe would be difficult for most five-year-olds.

There are two excellent websites you might try for research on this issue. The National Association for the Education of Young Children may have information that will help you. You can also go to the Education Resources Information Center; at that site you will find summaries of research articles that I'm sure will address your question.

Another resource would be professors in the education, child development, or psychology department of a local college or university. They could steer you to relevant resources, and might even be able to talk about this topic with school officials or parent groups at your school.

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Barbara Potts has worked as an elementary school counselor for many years. She has a BA in psychology from Wake Forest University, and an M.Ed. in Guidance and Counseling from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.

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