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In the discussions about high quality pre-K and Common Core standards, it seems to me that we are missing something important ("Ready for Kindergarten?" May 23). We are so focused on preparing young children for the future and using them to fix societal problems that we are not paying attention to young children themselves, their experiences, their feelings, their sense of themselves.

In many ways, we are giving them the message that they are not good enough. We teach them that living in the present moment is not good enough. We push down curriculum and treat young children like school-aged children although their brain structure is not as fully developed. We teach them that their innate desire to learn through creative, child-initiated play is not good enough. We insist upon teacher-directed, academic approaches and wonder why drop-out and illiteracy rates are high.

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Our society does have serious problems, but placing the burden on the small shoulders of four and five-year-old children is not kind or fair. We have too many young children who have already been badly hurt and we forfeit their opportunity to play out their feelings in developmentally-appropriate preschools. We have too many young children who cannot, no matter how hard they try, do what is expected and they get the message that they have failed. Even young children who appear to succeed because they test well are being cheated out of play and joy in learning.

We are concerned about bullying and we want children to treat each other well, but we are not modeling kind treatment. We do not have to leave bruises to damage young children.

Nancy Jeannechild, Baltimore

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