Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Let them be kids...

I have to wonder why so many parents are so eager to get their kids into school. I can understand the reasoning for parents who both work, but for moms who stay home, what's the rush? Let them enjoy their preschool years exploring the world around them before they have to be shut in a classroom at a desk for 6-7 hours a day. Let them experience life through the senses, using moments of wonder to teach them what you know about the world around them.

Think about it. Once a child starts school, they remain there, five days a week, 7 hours a day, 180 days a year for the next 13 years. That's if they stop after high school. If they go on to college (and we hope most of them will), that's an additional 4 years, and graduate/professional school is even more time. Some don't finish until they are in their late 20s, early 30s, so if they start at age 5, that can be 25+ years of school. So why put them in early? Let them have one more year of carefree learning.

Preschool children learn best through exploration and play anyway. It's a shame that many schools push academics as early as kindergarten. Kindergarten should be the introduction to school, not preschool. The excuse that education policy-makers use that we are trying to keep up with other industrialized nations is ridiculous. Putting kids in school earlier hasn't helped. We still aren't keeping up with the industrialized nations.

Perhaps one reason we are falling behind isn't because of the amount of time and environment in our classrooms, but perhaps it is due to the behaviors that we are teaching our children at home. Instead of utilizing a child's natural curiosity as a teaching tool, we expect someone else to pick up the reins to educate them. Not only do children learn valuable life lessons at home (like how to respect those in authority), but the home is a great sounding board for academic learning as well. I'm not talking just about reading, 'riting, and 'rithmetic (the three r's), but science, social studies, language, music, and art.

If a child is fascinated by dinosaurs, utilize that opportunity to teach them about it. Go to the library and check out age appropriate books and read with them. Take them to a dinosaur museum if there's one nearby. Make fossils out of clay, using every day objects at home as imprints and letting them dry. There are so many opportunities to really teach our children through experiences that we give them one-on-one, rather than sitting behind a desk in a classroom with 20-30 others. The world is rich with natural wonders, and nothing beats seeing understanding cross your child's mind when you were the one who helped them get there.

Let them be kids...

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