Too young for school?

Oct 09, 2013

“I am always ready to learn although I do not always like being taught.” ~ Winston Churchill

_56393689_childrenline.jpgYou may have seen recent reports about children starting school without being potty trained and with the developmental level of children as much as three years younger (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-23931080). There has been considerable concern from teachers that these children will always be delayed when compared to their peers. I share this concern.

In some ways, we have brought this on ourselves as a society. Until recently, we learned parenting from watching our own parents as they brought us and our siblings up, probably with some help from the previous generation. Times have changed. Fewer families stay together. If they do, often both parents are working to make ends meet. To a degree, the expectations of people have changed and they spend less time parenting their children – and granny and granddad do not live close to them or are not on good terms. As society changes, we lose parenting skills and these children will have fewer skills to pass on to their children. Perhaps this has been going on for a while now we are seeing the effects of this in the second generation. It is a problem for the schools, for society as a whole and especially the children that we have failed.

The question is what can be done to fix it. It would be interesting to look at countries where this didn’t happen. Finland is an fascinating contrast. Their maternity leave is not especially good. They spend less on childcare overall. They have a remarkably low infant mortality rate due to thoughtful help from their health service. They teach through play in the early years and focus on building a solid foundation for the child’s later learning. They do this in a number of ways – the OECD can explain it better than I can:http://www.oecd.org/finland/2476019.pdf. It could be said that a lot of their focus is on getting things right as soon as possible and teaching children for the sake of the children rather than the sake of the exams. How well does that work? Apparently Finnish schools have the best results in the world.

Maybe it is time to look again at what we are doing.




Category: News

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