Written Sep 12, 2016
Some habits are hard to break!
Just last week, one of our friends mentioned that they were thinking of sending their toddler to kindergarten. “Hold on!”, I told them.
So, as I usually do, I checked the research. I was already aware that some countries (such as Finland) start school later, and have good results academically.
It turns out that there has been a significant debate in Britain a couple of years ago regarding school starting age. Aware of the relevant research, 130 educators published a letter in a large British newspaper advocating “an extension of informal, play-based pre-school provision and a delay to the start of formal ‘schooling’ in England from the current effective start until the age of seven”.
The fear is that the English system – which was introduced in 1870 in order to get women back into work, rather than on the basis of any educational benefit to children – is now causing profound damage.
Yet another study, in 2002, demonstrated that, by the end of their sixth year in school, children in the US whose preschool learning had been academically directed achieved significantly lower marks compared with those who had attended play-based programmes. Too much, too young: Should schooling start at age 7?
The research therefore indicates that if you have to go to school early it should be an environment that supports “learning by playing”, and that academic learning should be delayed, possibly at least to age 7 (since there is no research indicating the results of starting academic learning at an even later age).
Different question … Different answer
Of course, we would have an entirely different debate if the question was “Why do we have to go to school?”. Since our family has chosen homeschooling as the option, then I guess we are a little biased on that one.