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Do We Send Our Children To School Too Young?


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Hello everyone iam interested in your thoughts on whether we as a country send our children to school to school to young?

I personally believe that we have acheived the balance just right, in that there is a much greater emphasis on play in the foundation stage. However i would like to see this carry on through to year 1.

Our european counterparts send their children to school at 7- achieving bettter results as they get older. So why then are we not folowing suit?

:)

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In answer to your actual question......................in my opinion, yes, we do send our children to school at far too young an age.Certainly in our area, children are NOT going in to play, they are going in to formal lessons, where play is seen as a distraction, rather than a right.Painting, drawing, sticking and singing is scarcely done, due to pressures of formal teaching.The teacher "doesn't have time to come to your preschool, she's far too busy teaching" was the response from the headteacher when we wrote to invite the reception teacher to visit us(we are 200yards away from the school!!).The teacher told one of her new charges' parents last week that their child(four and a half and a lovely, pleasant child) was "spoilt,doesn't understand poetry and simply doesn not want to learn..........she annoys the other children because she wants to play all the time!!"well now..................'doesn't understand poetry'??well, I agree, a bit of Betjeman or Keats might be beyond her, but she ADORES hairy Mac Clary and many other books which have lovely, rhyming stories, and often pointed out the similar words when she heard them, so.........she doesn't "understand"???Spoilt??Wants to play?? heaven forbid!! And the parents round here are told that if they don't send their child in at 4years, their space won't be guaranteed and if they wait, then the child will "miss out on the whole first year and won't go into reception, so they'll struggle in the next class"............so what do parents do in the face of this??And she has a class of very young children, some of whom need a cuddle or are tired etc , being told they can't have cuddles, because they are "big boy and girls now" It makes my blood boil, honestly and it seems very wrong to me.So, to me,yes we take them into formal schooling far too early in this country and I honestly, truly believe it's about getting better SATs results later on, after all, they've had "the benefit" of a whole extra year of school! Discuss.................

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Do they realise there is a Foundation Stage? Has OFSTED visited?

Sounds a child's worse nightmare. Would be interesting to compare results of this with a good Foundation Stage class. I think the later will turn out more rounded happy individuals.

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The link that marion gave shows my thoughts on formal schooling too young but I just wanted to respond to Narnia's experience, yes, there are good and not so good school experiences and I think that schools and teachers have a very difficult time of keeping the balance because of a variety of pressures, ie: measurable results, parent pressure such as when will my child be writing/reading, media pressure, British culture that values academic over creativity, etc etc.

 

I would think that the majority of teachers do the best they can within the costraints that they are put in, in fact the majority do more than their best in terms of commitment, extra hours, continuous professional development etc etc.

 

When thinking about this question I think it is useful to consider the broader cultural expectations we as a nation have of our educational system ( which was once deemed to be the best in the world). We are consistently changing our values and views and beginning to look at our expectations through the eye's of the child, so to speak, such as Every Child Matters, looking at research and results from other countries, we have a long way to go yet, and I think it is more about what is offered to our children rather than where they are situated.

 

Peggy

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I don't think being at school is a problem, it's what they do when they are there and people interpretation of the curriculum in place. Although we have formal learning from year 1 even that can be more child friendly with the right interpretation. have a look at this website www.thecoombes.com it's a school near Reading that I went to visit last year. They are state funded and follow the national curriculum but through amazing creativity are making it more appropriate to young children.

Elfy

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Part of the trouble in the small rural schools I have visited is that you get Reception, Year 1 and Year 2 all in together. The teacher tends to organise things on a formal level for the Year 2's and the poor little Reception children are sat at tables doing formal activities with a TA. Not a messy play or role play area in sight.

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My experience with my own children was that we lived in the US for two years when my children were small. My middle child did reception in the UK, kindergarten (all play based learning) and first grade in the US and then came back into year 3 in the UK where he was ahead of his peers! Kindergarten was entirely play based - and mornings only (where he had been doing all day in reception). First grade was quite a challenging year, but they really got them off to a flying start after all that learning through play! I think my son's understanding of what he was doing and why (in writing/maths etc) was far deeper because he had spent so much time seeing and experiencing the theory of it in his play.

I definitely think we start children in school too young here in the UK.

 

Carolyn

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I agree with some of the comments so far and I think its entirely dependent on your local school. My youngest has had her first year at school and thrived on it but fortunately our school embraces the foundation stage curriculum and she has spent much of the year learning through play. Our school also carries child-initiated play through years 1, 2 and 3 although obviously less time each day is spent on this as the children progress up the school.

 

I believe the one thing schools can't offer our children is the high adult to child ratios that they receive in pre-school which has got to be detrimental to a childs basic needs.

Edited by nicki-k
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When my youngest child starts nursery in January 2007, he'll be 3 1/2. If I'm honest I do feel that this is way too young, but my reasons for sending him are; after a year in preschool he's ready to move on. I made a conscious decision not to work on half the days that he attended so he wouldn't be used to having me with him all the time! The nursery he'll be going to is absolutely fantastic :oxD:( . I've known the staff for years, they are the only nursery in the area who we feed into who actually bother to visit us to meet the children and ask us questions about them. Most important of all, all learning in the nursery is play based. Admittedly I am extremely biased as I am a parent governor at the school, but I wouldn't be if I didn't think the school and all its staff were fantastic and could give my children the best start in their educational lives by encouraging a love of learning.

 

Karrie

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We send our children to school too early, but if the Government doesnt want to change that then they should instead change the way 'play' is thought of by Heads and some teachers. League tables should be abolished. They should run a multi million pound campaign to stop parents being pushy and demanding their children can do more and more until they are ready. There should be a directive that we can only employ people in Early years who is limited in his/her ability to say 'no, stop, quiet, sit'. Nurseries should only employ 'happy people' who are always ready to read, discover, research and follow up ideas heard or whispered, instead of getting the piece of paper with 'You have passed your NVQ' on it and putting away all books.

 

Tongue in cheek of course :o:D

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