Note to my readers: Sorry I disappeared a couple of weeks ago. I was out of town, then enjoyed Thanksgiving with family. I hope all of you enjoyed our special very American holiday of Thanksgiving. Now back to education . . .
I noted in my last post that in Finnish children do not begin formal schooling until age seven. 97% attend preschool at age five. The preschool curriculum is primarily playing and socializing.
In the U.S. some three-year-olds go to pre-school two mornings a week. Four-year-olds may attend five mornings a week, and it is usually considered to be pre-K. By the time they begin kindergarten at age five, they are expected to know their letters, numbers, colors, as well as many other items. For a complete list see my blog, Does Your Child Need Additional Help? posted March 2013, https://jnrtutoringacademy.wordpress.com/2013/03/03/does-your-child-need-additional-help/.
We all want our children to be successful, and the prevailing wisdom is that they need to begin formal learning as early as possible. Does that imply that Finnish parents don’t want their children to be successful? No, they just don’t require it at age five.
If one watches a group of two, three and/or four year olds play, you will note that they are able to determine what roles each child assumes without adult influence. Some are better at one activity than another. They naturally gravitate to the activity that they like the most and are the best at doing.
But what happens when these play-times add adult supervision? Have you ever heard the comment, “Billy, you are always doing that. Why don’t you try this?” Adults think that they know better than the child what he or she should be doing. After being hounded for a while, the child may change activities, but once the adult disappears, return to the preferred activity.
Why can’t we just let kids be kids? Childhood is a very short portion of the lifetime continuum. Do we really need to force them to learn the alphabet at three? I am amazed at the preponderance of very specific educational toys for one to three year olds! Then there are the DVDs for mom to play to her fetus!
Unfortunately, the conventional wisdom says that children must learn early. Those who control public education tell us that pre-school is a must if the country is to compete successfully in the world. However, there are numerous studies confirming that any advantage a child acquires by attending pre-school is usually gone by the end of the elementary years.
The primary reason children enter school behind their peers is that the parents don’t provide a nurturing home. And nurturing means many things. In our PC-gone-crazy world we are not allowed to say that one home is better than another. That might hurt someone’s feelings. But friends, it is a fact that children who are read to, talked to and regularly stimulated by parents fare better than those who are not.
So while we publicly crucify anyone who dares to note that a stable, nurturing home with two parents is better for the development of a child, we allow/require children to be pushed into circumstances for which many of them are not ready. And we do this for the children.