There’s a new campaign being launched by the Save Childhood Movement to raise awareness of the dangers of children starting formal education too soon, which has been covered by today’s BBC news.
It’s supported by 127 educational experts, a senior lecturer in education at Cambridge University among them, who’ve written a signed letter to the press in support of it.
However, our education minister who has no experience in education has called them ‘misguided’.
I know whose opinion I would trust!
I also know that it is not necessary to force formal education onto young children having seen how many youngsters develop without it. Youngsters whose parents, also having misgivings about the system overloading their children and numbing them to the delight that education should be, decided to homeschool.
However early we start to push formal education onto some children it won’t be of benefit unless they develop in other ways, personal ways, so that they can take advantage of it. And it is that personal side of children’s development that the system overlooks. Children are pushed on mentally, while socially and emotionally they are unable to cope and become withdrawn into survival strategies and behaviours, unable to potentialise their education.
One of the fundamental flaws in the schooling system is that it’s based around a one-size-fits-all approach. It’s based on the premise that all children are the same, develop at the same rate, and can learn in the same time frame. And although lip-service is paid to the needs of those with ‘learning difficulties’ most parents feel support is inadequate.
The reality is that every child has a different ‘learning readiness’, for want of a better phrase. They don’t develop along a smooth upward curve, all reaching the same stage of development at the same time. They develop in leaps and plateaus. And they need developmental time in between these leaps to assimilate what’s learnt before being ready for the next stage.
Take reading for example. There’s a huge diversity between the ages at which children begin to read. Some latch onto it easily and quickly quite early, some climb up to reading fluency through a gentle uphill progression. And some can’t read effectively until they’re almost in their teens. This happens with mathematical development too, where some children need a lot longer than others in grasping mathematical concepts. But that time is rarely available in the school system and these children are often labelled unintelligent.
What’s so sad about this is that they’re not unintelligent at all; just developing at different rates. But within a schooling system that dictates these rates children are made out to be ‘failures’.
There are many parents among the home educating community who have removed their ‘failures’ from schools and turned their education into a success by allowing them to progress at a rate in line with their personal development. And there are other parents who decide to postpone their child’s formal education because they felt they were just not mature enough to cope with it, some never going to school.
Yet despite threats that these kids will be ‘behind’, that doesn’t turn out to be the case at all. In fact many home educated youngsters are generally ahead of their school counterparts, some of these ‘failures’ going onto Uni. And it is not because the parents forced too much too soon upon them. It’s more likely to be the opposite; parents gave children the time they needed to develop and allowed them to progress in line with their needs however long it takes.
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