In a world where so many do not have access to any education and will go through life illiterate, debating whether education should be delayed may seem counter-productive. The truth is that I highly value education and am thankful that I have had the freedom to become educated in the way that I have. I really believe that I have been given such a gift and I want to share that with my children as well. But I also believe that our understanding of education has become confused and that often the value is placed on education rather than learning, which is resulting in many being educated while having learned very little.
One place that I have been doing some reading from is this blog, Not Just Cute, a woman who is actually a preschool teacher and I know, how does that go along with my delayed education philosophy. Anyways I find that she make many good points about the development of children and our expectation on them (Thanks Beth for the original link!). In one particular article, Age Does Matter, she focuses on how America (and Canada’s) kids are struggling academically (I would suggest more areas as well) and the response seems to be to just start earlier. She says, “It struck me right away that what I was doing with first graders just seven years ago is now considered kindergarten territory.”

And a couple quotes from within the article:

Gesell Institute’s Executive Director, Dr. Marcy Guddemi explained during her formal announcement of this study, that “Children have sets of abilities that are definitively bound by their developmental level.  These developmental abilities of a child are directly related to their success at processing the information given to them and to perform the tasks asked of them.”  This means that regardless of state standards and curriculum requirements, if a child has not had adequate time and experience to develop the requisite abilities, her chances for success are slim.  Unfortunately while the pace of developmental growth has not changed, what is expected of these children certainly has.

Dr. Guddemi points out that children may actually appear to learn some of these tasks.  But points out that this “learning” is actually “training”.  Because they are not developmentally ready, the children haven’t built the appropriate connections for meaningful knowledge.  Referring to these as “splinter skills” she says, “You can train them, but the knowledge and understanding—the true learning—has not happened.  Our country has this hang up that if the child can perform, that they know.”

I won’t quote more of the article because I think that it is really worth reading. Also she links to some other articles and has resources at the end.

It is this particular quote that struck me, You can train them, but the knowledge and understanding—the true learning—has not happened.  Our country has this hang up that if the child can perform, that they know.”  Even in my limited time teaching and doing remedial reading programs for elementary students, I observed kids who in the earliest years “got it” and excelled but now were struggling and hating school only a couple of grades in. Is it perhaps because like Aneliese, they “knew” but also like her hadn’t developed to the point where it would be meaningful and lasting knowledge to them?

Most of the articles that I have read are actually still approaching it from the perspective of a child attending preschool and kindergarten. However, my question is, will it hurt them to wait a little longer? And if we as parents are being intentional about experiencing life with our children, attentive to their needs, is it best to begin formal education in even a “fun” style?

And in conclusion of part two, one more link that is kind of fun:

15 things every pre-schooler should know
Part three to follow…and then I’m done:)…