In the last couple days a few of my Facebook friends have posted pictures and been proudly posting about their young children's preschool and kindergarten graduations, awards and achievements. These are not my more mainstream friends either, but the old hippies I was on Dead tour with and more "alternative" minded friends. As I looked through one such album, I noticed all the things on the wall, about letters, numbers, reading and math. This was a preschool. I also noticed how they give special awards like "Most creative thinker" or "Best in Math".
I don't mean for this thread to be a judgemental rant, more an expression of the sadness I feel when I see that 2, 3 and 4 year old children are being put in classrooms and taught to read and do arithmetic. What happened to just letting a child be a child? And the competition created when one child is awarded over all the rest for how much math they learned. I am not in favor of competition at any age, but for preschoolers? It just breaks my heart.
I grew up in the 70s and 80s and I don't remember doing any kind of academic work until 1st grade. Preschool and Kindergarten were about playing and napping. I now live in Germany, where many kids do not start any kind of school until the first grade (age 6 or 7), and nobody is taught to read until then even if they do go to the optional preschool and kindergarten. I remember being shocked about this at first, like "WHAT!? Kids can't read here until age 7???"...but now I am convinced that is the best thing for a child. Let them play and learn as they naturally will through play until they are ready to learn to read. Some are ready sooner than others, and if that's the case then it's important to help them learn to read or do math if they want that, say, at age 3 or 4. But I think most kids would rather be outside playing than sitting at a desk learning that 9-4=5 at age four, kwim?
Is anyone else upset by this trend? What have you done to protect your child from all this pressure to learn academic skills and compete at such a young age? My son is only one, but I avoid toys and books that purposely try to teach the alphabet or numbers. We will be sending him to Waldorf kindergarten starting next year, and their philosophy is firmly against teaching academic skills until age 6 or 7. If DS shows interest, of course I would teach him to read or simple math if he asks for it, but otherwise he will learn that stuff when he's in first grade and until then enjoy just playing and being a kid.