Sunday, October 23, 2011

Free the Little Children

"Alarmingly, recess is vanishing in many primary schools. Kinder-garteners are expected to acquire 'prelearning skills' before they even get to primary school. In Sweden they have a very different approach. There, preschool children are encouraged to play and relax without any structured learning for the first six years of their lives. They go for nature walks every day, even in the bitter Scandinavian winter. They are not taught to read until they are seven years of age, yet by the age of ten, Swedish children consistently lead European literacy rankings." From 10 Mindful Minutes, by Goldie Hawn 
When I first began to homeschool my firstborn, twenty-five years ago, I enlisted the wisdom of my grandmother, a long-time teacher and remedial reading tutor. She encouraged me, "Late is better than early. The ones who start school later - even as late as eight years old - catch up and often surpass those who began 'on time.' The kids who begin at four or five burn out by the time they reach middle school. Those who begin later - at seven or eight - go the distance without burnout."

I wonder what Grandma would say to the early-age starters of today? Kids are in pre-school at two and three years old! It boggles the mind.

I thank God for Grandma's wisdom which has proven itself over time.

Please, if you have little ones, let them be little. Let them walk the garden, explore, breathe, relax, play. Far more is learned in this way than in the confines of a flat-walled room full of artificial smells, shapes, and colors. Nothing beats the wind on the face, sunshine, mist, warmth and chill, and all the living overhead and underfoot that life offers to fresh little beings.

Nothing.

And when they are not in the garden or park let them relax, follow you around, help you carry their socks to their rooms, nap, sit on your lap to listen to your voice as you read to them or sing little songs.

Simplify your life.

For the children's sake.

5 comments:

-Survivor or something like it said...

I am so glad I found your blog. Lovely post.

Cherie said...

Thanks, SOS! Welcome aboard.

deanna said...

My philosophy and thoughts have been the same. There's great pressure to make kids perform a certain way by a certain age, but if they can take their time, they will usually be better for it. I did a far from perfect job with mine, but I think they benefited from this approach.

Marianne Elixir said...

I love it. It is a hard path to defend these days, but I can tell my kids are so much better served by play and natural learning. Eventually they will all read and write!

Cherie said...

Deanna, your kids are so bright! You did plenty 'just right'. Thanks for the feedback. It's valuable.

Marianne, yes, your kids will pick up reading and writing when their brains are ready for it. And then they will soar! To attempt to cram the stuff into unready heads is not only a waste of time, but it's downright frustrating. I feel so sorry for little kids whose childhoods are stunted and dulled in classrooms, or with any sort of unnatural 'educational' structure before they're ready. A crying shame. To give them desks and crayons and paper is one thing, to force feed them when they are obviously struggling is another.