Kids & Early Learning – Too early?

I like to read news. Particularly ones that have comments at the bottom because I’d like to see what people’s thoughts are about the particular news article or whether they agree with the writer. From there you see people taking sides, arguing against one another, putting their cases forward, learning a lot more about it and form a better view yourself. Whether or not it is right is not for anyone else to judge on (unless it’s a law breaker!).

So the other day I came across this article about 3 year olds and homework. The article discusses about whether it is beneficial for kids to start learning early. Two terms that drew my attention were “start early” and “school ready.”

Forget what caused this trend, but with the world becoming more and more competitive each day, there are a couple of questions that strike my mind:

Why do we need to start early?

Is this a bad thing?

With the first question, the trend is that more and more are starting early. The Chinese does have a saying “win/lose is determined at the starting line,” so starting early, builds them a foundation and gives them that slight advantage over others when school starts.

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And so is this a bad thing? Or why is this judged as a bad thing?

Mothers in the western world see this as putting stress on the children as this should be a time where they are playing, exploring and enjoying their life as a kid. There’s already 13 years of compulsory education and then university. Why strip away even more of their lives and putting them at early learning?

It is perceived crazy in Asian countries because parents put so much time, money and effort in getting their kids to learn this and that at such an early age, kids complain they have no time to play.

I can see where they are coming from, because from the lower and middle class society, kids only have one shot in life, and they don’t want them to be doing what they do for a living. They also want to see their kids to be able to sustain their living in the future so they can look after themselves.

However I believe this to be extreme and it does have negative effects for a healthy family relationship. Forcing your kids to do these things is unhealthy and especially when you don’t spend time with them and just getting them to go.

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But starting early and getting kids to learn early is a healthy thing. It all depends on what and how it is done. The “learn early” for me is to get them exposed to these types of learning, but not to force and impose these types of learning on them.

I believe the people that are in this industry are giving their best in terms of love and effort to teach these kids to learn easy concepts and other things to equip them ready for school.

These places are not like military camps with strict routines and harsh environments to give your kids a “hell” of a time but rather nurturing them with love and care (“Do what you can but I can show you and teach you if you don’t know”).

Parents have a massive influence for their children in terms of whether or not this is a good thing by spending valuable time with them and being “patient.”

Time is the most important because you are doing this with them. It is only when you are not spending time with them and then expecting them to learn, understand it straight away while you spend your time in leisure will make them think this is not fun, intuitive or interesting at all. When they lose interest, there is no motivation for them and they stop learning.

Through spending time with them you establish communication, a relationship with them and when you help them they will look up to you as their role model.

Patience is equally important. It is more EQ I am talking about as adults we tend to think they will learn after one lesson and then they don’t, you lose it! Or at least I lose it!

Kids won’t get it straight away. Some do, some don’t because some will always be brighter than others but is NOT that your kids is not bright but there is a TIME where they will learn. Some learn quicker, others slower and age will certainly be a factor (eg: when you put your kids to school early).

So the idea is to don’t blow up when they don’t get it, but continue to show love and patience AND spending time with them to get it. This will give them a positive learning experience and they will want to learn.

As to school ready, there are basic requirements of what is school ready. Basic life skills like, put on clothes, dress, change, go to toilet, no nappy, know what things are yours, opening lunch box, drink water, basic communications are I think the real basic requirements to school ready.

So the question is what is early learning to be school ready?

Early learning or learning in general should never be all about academics but it is all about life skills, ethics and morals.

Tim Hawkes, the headmaster of the King’s School, the no.1 private school in NSW has said our schools today have failed to educate kids. We are so focused on academics that there should be 10 things we should be teaching our kids rather than just maths, English, science, etc.

These are the ability to:

  • Live in community and to forge good relationships
  • Communicate well
  • Know yourself and what you believe
  • Handle intimacy and sex
  • Control emotions and impulses
  • Manage financial matters
  • Do practical things, to clean, cook, make and mend
  • Be good mannered and to know etiquette
  • Accept responsibility
  • Be resilient and to deal with grief and loss

There are a few extra areas which are based on morals and ethics and you can find out more here.

To conclude, early learning is not a bad thing at all. The point is what should they be learning? Basic English, letters, numbers bring no harm because they need to learn these simple things to communicate and as basic knowledge.

But how far you go, how intense it is, how much pressure you are putting on, how much expectations you are setting and how much time you are spending with them are all factors that will determine whether early learning is a good thing or a bad thing.

In the end, give them what’s best, but most of all your time with them, along with love, patience and care is what your child ultimately wants from you.

 

What are your thoughts? Feel free to share with us!

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