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I’m surprised at the number of back-to-school comments, or not-back-to-school in the case of homeschoolers, I saw on Facebook this morning. It’s mid-August. Why so early?
Not only are school-aged children heading to the school building, but so are many three- and four-year-olds. Some of these little boys and girls are barely potty trained and they are being sent away from the comfort of home. Why so early?
For nearly a decade parents have been told that they may be doing their children great harm by keeping them at home. Parents have been told that they cannot adequately prepare their little ones for the rigors of kindergarten or first grade. These things are best left to professionals. So off go tiny tots, lugging oversized backpacks, to an institution of learning.
The Universal Preschool movement began in the 1990s, but reached full steam when California put the issue before the voters. Many slogans, taken from a RAND Corporation study, made claims that children would be smarter, earn more money, not use drugs, and one ad even claimed Social Security would be saved. Who could deprive their child of that advantage?
Actually, real life hasn’t matched the claims. Government Accounting Office reports showing Head Start, the standard for most preschools, has not lived up to expectations. In fact, the much-reported statistic that says children who have been to preschool are academically ahead of their peers when entering kindergarten doesn’t hold true when the children get to third grade. All gains that seem to be made during preschool are lost. (See “The Real Numbers” from Preschool: At What Cost?)
Is your heart telling you that you have a better idea? That you are your child’s best teacher? As Dr. Benjamin Spock told several generations of parents, “Trust yourself.”
Read more about informal preschool.
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JulieBeth Lamb says
I am so glad you have published a book expounding on the things I am always telling parents. Thank you so much for this important resource for young families.
One day I was writing to a mom encouraging her not to worry about a “curriculum” for her preschooler. I asked my 16 & 21 year old daughters who happened to be in the room what activities they remembered as being most educational from their preschool days. One said sticks and the other said mud! Those things along with blocks, cars, legos, army men, trees, dolls, and other simple toys taught them to think, imagine, reason, share, create, and contemplate.
Though we never did any formal preschool education everyone of my five children knew their colors, counting, writing their names, about God’s creation, good grammar, and so much more.
Karen Koch says
This important work will relieve many a worried parent of preschoolers. Citing research that cuts through our society’s hype over early academics, Susan deftly shows that our preschoolers thrive best in the context of loving, secure HOME. Here our little ones learn naturally, in a setting of family, love, play, and growing responsibility. Keep them home with confidence after reading this book.
We really never considered putting our children in Preschool, and many people were aghast at that! Children do so much growing during that time, and we really had our doubts as to what good it would do. I read one study that stated that by early elementary school, the children will be where they would naturally fall academically, with or without preschool! We made sure that one parent was at home with our children – why would we want to put them in preschool? Additionally, when our kids were “tested” before starting kindergarten, the teachers thought that they HAD attended Preschool! We did not sit them down and say, “Now learn this!” We simply talked to them, read to them and spent time with them explaining things as we went about our normal routines. Not much tv and no video games either at that age. Society puts too much pressure on parents to conform to the preschool standard, and I don’t think it’s good for our children!
Susan K. Stewart says
Kelli, You’re absolutely correct that parents are pressured to conform. The pressure has come in the form of dubious studies and well-financed media campaigns. My children didn’t attend preschool and none of them are failing adults.