Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Is Preschool Necessary? Part Four – Academics


I thought this would be the easiest post of this series to write.  After all, how much can a person have to say about preschool academics?  But as my thoughts delved into more areas than I expected, the post kept getting longer and longer (you know I have trouble keeping things short and sweet anyway!).  For that reason I’ve decided to split it into four {oh yes, I said four!} sections – one post each day all the way to Friday.  Get comfy and hold on! ;)

Academics in preschool
… this is actually where I began my journey toward understanding that there are alternatives to traditional school.  Now look at me – I feel like a completely different person than I was just a few short years ago. 

When M was very small (about the age in the photo above, not quite 2 years), I assumed we would put him in Kindergarten at 5 years old, which would be this fall.  His birthday is late August, and he would be one of the youngest children in his class, which was totally okay with me.  He was brilliant (hahaha, not that I was biased or anything), and I thought the sooner he started school the better – how else to develop all that latent genius?  And preschool, at 3 or 4, would only give him that much more of a head start.  Um, wouldn’t it?

And then, crazy as it sounds, I realized my husband had his own ideas about all of this (the nerve!).  He was adamant that, with a late summer birthday, it would be better to wait until M was 6 years old before beginning Kindergarten.  What?!  I started Kindergarten when I was 4, and there is nothing wrong with me. 

Oh wait.  Except that I never really enjoyed school. 

The pressures – socially and academically – were really stressful for me.  I can see now, that with another year (or two) under my belt I would have been better prepared developmentally for what was expected of me throughout all of my elementary years.  As it was, I loved being sick and getting to stay home (sounds pathetic, doesn’t it?).  All I really wanted was home, Mama, and a little security.  To be completely honest, I had begged to go to school, and my parents had reluctantly agreed.

I was ready and very eager to learn…but I was only 4 years old! 

The basic emotional and psychological needs of my little 4 year old self weren’t being met by being in school, and so everything was a struggle

I wanted to be a big kid, but you can’t be a big kid until you’re all done being a little kid! 

So I want M to take his time with being a little kid – it’s an important time of his life, really his foundation for a happy life – and it’s not something I want to rush him through.

I was academically ready to learn what I was “supposed” to learn at 4, but the joy of learning, which was what prompted my strong desire to go to school in the first place, was completely snuffed out.  I struggled with being unhappy and yet at the same time having to put forth the effort to learn new things... things that someone else had decided I needed to learn, not the things I was interested in and naturally wanted to learn about. 

(Not that I think kids should never have to learn about something they aren’t interested in, just not basic academics at 4 years old, in my opinion.  Exposing them to new ideas and skills, and playing off of what naturally interests them, is different than requiring them to learn.)

In this country since that time (mid 1970’s) kindergarten has changed dramatically.  What once was reserved for first and second grade is now being formally taught in kindergarten, and kindergarten curriculum is being pushed down into preschools.  Yes, it’s presented in fun ways, and many children love it.  But the pressure to learn is still there – not necessarily from the preschool teacher, but from parents who want proof that their children are learning and thus getting a supposed leg up on the competition.   (Yes, I know this is not all parents, but I know myself and am concerned that I could turn into that kind of parent, given the chance.)

After many conversations with my husband, I began doing some research on this crazy “later is better than earlier” idea, and I have to say, I’ve been convinced.  We have time.  Time for M to grow up at his own pace.  Time to learn to read, time to explore science and develop math skills.  Time.  He does not have to go out and get a job tomorrow.  He just needs to be happy and secure and loved right now

More tomorrow…. :)

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thank you for taking the time to leave a comment; I love reading them! If you ask a question and don't receive a personal reply, check back here for the answer. Often I reply via comment to something that might be of interest to others.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...