I recently posted at my blog that part of a solid education reform package would be keeping kids out of school until they are developmentally ready–say 6 or 7 (granted that some are developmentally ready at 5, but that none are ready at 3 or 4). I posted this to my LinkedIn account and got some feedback.
One wrote back:
"Should kids go to school at age 4, 5, 6. You mention family time would be better than going to school at younger ages but with many families trying to eke out a living they do not have the time to keep kids at home. The reality for many is that preschool and school are about child care not necessarily education. A well run program for young kids is certainly more beneficial than what many families could offer if the kids were at home" (Name withheld)
I wrote in response:
The end of your statement is exactly the problem: "The reality for many is that preschool and school are about child care not necessarily education."
This is why parents then refuse to get involved in the academic success of their children, why teachers are expected to thus raise the children and teach them what they should be learning at home, and why there are so many discipline issues at schools.
Teachers are not in existence to raise other people's children or babysit them. We are there to educate the children. Children should be at home at young ages building forts, playing with trucks and dolls, and eating toasted cheese sandwiches made by mom or dad for lunch not dealing with the rigors of a 6-7 hour school day.
Sorry, I disagree with you entirely. School should not be be a place of social engineering which is what it becomes when children go to school at increasingly younger ages.
And when it falls upon teachers to be mere baby-sitters, education fails. I cannot concentrate on educating 15-20 kids in a classroom when there is 1 or more who require and demand my attention because of their misbehavior, or age appropriate behavior (for 3 or 4 or 5 year olds that is).
My point all along is that true education reform has to begin at the home. And what happens when children this young misbehave in the classroom? They are sent to the school psychologist who then runs a battery of tests and determines the child is ADHD.*** The parents then take the child, armed with new evidence, to a doctor who prescribes pills for the child.
The child then learns nothing because he/she does not learn to measure their own behavior or to self-regulate, but rather to suck down a pill. That is not education.
*Even the president thinks we need more pre-k services for children. But I ask why? What does it accomplish having children under 5 attending all day or every other day classes at a public school. The question remains: who benefits from children being in school at such a young age, getting burned out before they are in 2nd grade, missing their parents, and trying to learn what they are not ready to learn? Not the parents. Not the teachers. Not the children. (Hint: If you said the government, you are right.
**See also: Early-Education Advocates Welcome Fresh Federal Infusion. I am not advocating that early education needs more money, just pointing to the article as an example of how misguided this entire process is. Simply throwing more money at education 'problems' is not a solution. It is a washing of hands. I wonder how much suffering our culture could alleviate if parents kept their children at home until 6-7 years of age?
***And that is no knock on the school psychologist who is doing his/her job. My point is that if the child were developing at home under the aegis of the parent, some of these problems might just vanish befor the child is in school. Medication is not life; it is medicine. As an intervention specialist, I never recommend medication. Children can learn a lot from parents, and should.