Children should start school at six, says academic
Bright children should start school only at the age of six to avoid early ‘adultification’, an academic has claimed.
by Pragya Saini, Mindful Mum, 23rd May 2012
According to an article published in the Telegraph, education expert Dr Richard House believes that feeding children with an overdose of the three Rs i.e. reading, writing and arithmetic at an early age can cause long term developmental harm.
Gifted pupils face greater risk
The senior lecturer at Roehampton’s University for Therapeutic Education added that rather than starting school at the current standard age of four or five, those with ‘run-away intellect’ would benefit immensely by slowing down in the early years. While quoting a major US study, which was spanned over eight decades, he warned that bright children if pushed too hard to excel can develop in an “intellectually unbalanced way”.
Need for change
While addressing a major conference in central London last week, Dr. House said that children from deprived backgrounds should enter formal education at the younger age because they would ‘benefit from such early interventions’. He also called upon the government to reassess the starting age for formal schooling. He said “The conventional wisdom is that naturally intelligent children should have their intellect fed and stimulated at a young age, so they are not held back.
“Yet these new empirical findings strongly suggest that exactly the opposite may well be the case, and that young children’s run-away intellect actually needs to be slowed down in the early years if they are not to risk growing up in an intellectually unbalanced way, with possible life-long negative health effects.”
Currently, almost all English children start nursery or reception school at the age of three or four under a compulsory “nappy curriculum” which falls under the Early Years Foundation Stage. The children then later progress to formal schooling at the age of five. The government recently revealed plans to modify EYFS, cutting the number of targets pre-school children are expected to hit from 69 to 17. But academics claim that the revised version still over-emphasizes desk-based learning, which puts children under a lot of pressure.
The modified plans for pre-school education still focus on the three-R’s and include targets such as:
- Read and understand simple sentences in books and use phonic knowledge to decode regular and some irregular words;
- Write simple sentences that can be read by themselves and others;
- Count up to 20 and use simple addition and subtraction to solve practical problems;
- Use everyday language to describe and compare size, weight, capacity, time and distance
Early Childhood Action
As an alternative approach, 50 leading academics, authors and childcare organizations, earlier this year, formed a group called Early Childhood Action, calling for free imaginative play to be at the centre of young children’s experience and learning.
The modified plans for pre-school education still focus on the three-R.
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Photo: Tanakwho @ Flickr