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What happened to early childhood?

post #1 of 118
Thread Starter 

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.

post #2 of 118


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by P.J. View Post

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?

 

 

 

Do you know with absolute certainty that these children of your Facebook friends were sitting at desks to learn reading and math? A lot of preschools are play-based and children have great fun spending time there. The preschools provide lots of "educational" resources for early literacy and numeracy but aren't drilling the children in worksheets and flashcards. There is a lot of learning that can happen without sitting at a desk, including a lot of math and reading skills. Children are natural learners and will soak up amazing amounts of information. There is nothing inherently wrong with a 2 or 3 or 4 y.o. learning math and reading, as long as they enjoy it and are interested in it. Unless you know differently, then honestly, it does sound like you are judging. 

 

Personally, I don't get uptight about kindergarten "graduations". They are silly, but mostly they are a chance for a little fun and a good-bye at the end of the year. I'm not fond of prizes and awards, so I'd likely roll my eyes at that part. My dc's kindie grads consisted of lining up to receive a certificate from the principal and shaking her hand, singing a few songs and running off for some treats and juice while the parents chatted. No awards. It was all quite sweet and no different from end-of-year parties for music lessons and sports teams. 

 

I think you have a good point about competition, but I think that is a society-wide problem. It doesn't just occur in pre-schools. We need to eliminate unhealthy competition throughout our society.  

 

It's great that you have found an educational philosophy and method that is consistent with your beliefs. Since your child is still a baby, I suggest that keep an open mind. As much as I find many aspects of Waldorf attractive, a delayed academic setting like Waldorf would have been a terrible fit for my 2 dc. They taught themselves to read when they were 3 y.o. and were absorbed reading chapter books at about the age that a Waldorf school would have finally allowed them to start learning the alphabet. I can't imagine their frustration if they wanted to learn something, and I decided to thwart that natural tendency by avoiding or discouraging it by telling them that they were just too young to learn their letters and numbers. I don't see how that is better or more admirable than pushing them to learn before they are ready. 

 

 

post #3 of 118

Yes and no. I'm one who wishes there was more flexibility during those ages. I wouldn't send my kids to an academic preschool but I wouldn't send my kids to a school that discourages early academics either. I don't want a society that assumes preschoolers can't or don't want traditional academics but I do think it's wrong to actively expect it. As to our youth, frankly, kindergarteners are a lot older than they were when we were kids. My DS's class had kids turning SEVEN during the school year! That was totally unheard of when I was in kindergarten. So yes, kindergartens are more academic but kids are older too.

 

I must say though, while I'm not a fan of numbers and letters in the early years, I'm really big into experiences even in areas that people think are beyond a child's understanding. For example, little ones LOVE the art museum but most parents just assume they won't. My eldest developed quite a passion for particular artist prior to kindergarten. My DS just loved running around counting all the pictures with dogs in them... a giant Where's Waldo lol. It didn't make them artists and that wasn't the point but at 10 and 14, they still think a trip to the art museum has the potentiol for fun where their friends are groaning. The early experience did change the way they look at art and I'm glad we gave them that exposure.

 

I guess my point is, traditional academics are the easy part. When they are developmentally ready, they pick them up fast and with little effort. It's a waste of time to work on letters and numbers when you could be taking your kids interesting places... museums, tidepools, nature hikes, zoos, aquariums, family nights at the science center, ect. Let's not assume that 3-year-olds aren't capable of seeing the world outside their backyard. Certainly, let's not expect kids to be developmentally ready for reading/writing/math prior to 1st grade but let's not assume there won't be many ready for it earlier.

post #4 of 118

Ugh.

 

Threads like this just stink of judgment, even if you do disguise it as sadness.  Both of my sons went to preschool.  They both graduated and had a little ceremony.  For them, it was more a graduation from daycare since they wouldn't be going there anymore once they started kindergarten.  Their preschool was part of daycare, lasted a couple hours 3 mornings a week and was completely voluntary.  If the kid wanted to play instead of do preschool, that was totally fine.  They aren't sitting at desks memorizing multiplication tables or anything and they worked completely at their own desire.

 

My older son went on to graduate from kindergarten.  As my younger son will do next year.  I'm not sure what problem anyone has with graduation ceremonies for preschoolers and kindergarteners.  As for the competition, every kid probably got best at something.  My older son entered kindergarten reading.  Did I force him to sit down every day until he could?  Of course not.  He wanted to read, there wasn't anything I could have done to stop had I wanted to.  I agree that kids shouldn't be forced into learning anything but I certainly wouldn't hold a kid back who wanted to learn.  He's now 9 and easily dividing and doing fractions, something they only touched on during the school year.  We aren't pushing him into this, we're following his lead.  If he wants to try out college level algebra, I'm not stopping him.  This same kid plays with his friends, goes swimming, rides his bike, digs in the dirt, all those normal kid activities. 

 

The idea that if your child attends preschool, you aren't letting them be a kid is ridiculous.  Most of preschool is play.  Kindergarten is incredibly laid back.  When I had a 1 year old, I had great ideas too.  Then my kid grew up a little and had plenty of his own ideas. 

post #5 of 118

I couldnt agree with Alyantavid more.  I would like to add that I have heard of some preschools having an award for each and every child, hilighting their strong points.  Like Best Sharer, and Best Memory.  Best counter.  That sort of thing.  This way NO ONE is left out, and the everyone is made to feel just a tiny bit special.  I think its adorable.  And have you ever seen those preschoolers in their little cap and gowns?  Oh Dear Lord!  Its absoutly DARLING!

 

And while Im at it, I would like to point out that this is posted in Learning at School.  If you have to send your child to daycare, and it has a preschool program within it, and you plan to send your child to public (or private school), what is wrong with a little prelim to that type of structered environment?  Kids have a hard enough time transitioning from going grocery shopping to having lunch.  Immagine how hard it will be for their little minds to go from Playing all day everyday with thier peers, to being expected to sit behind a desk and listen to their teachers most of the day.  All Im saying is a little warm up is not a bad thing at all IMO.

post #6 of 118

OP, I agree with you! This was one of the major reasons we chose to homeschool our children in a Waldorf, and delayed academics fashion.

post #7 of 118

I personally don't know of any preschoolers or kindergarteners who are sitting at desks all day doing math and other academics, and I feel like a know a lot of people.  My DD has attended a Montessori school since she was two, and academics have never been forced on her.  What they have done, however, is introduce her to concepts and she is free to continue with them or to move on to something else.  I would never squash her curiosity about what we perceive as academic.  If she is ready for it, I will let her do it. 

 

I see this issue come up a lot on MDC (the whole academic vs. play argument).  I think we get too caught up in the idea that somehow learning is not play.  Like if you have to learn, you are rejecting play.  I actually think that a lot of preschools in my area base their programs on child-led learning, which is a combination of straight play and introduction to certain concepts.  For example, reading to children prepares them for reading readiness.  No one has forced my DD to read words/books, but they have focused on the concept of books and she knows that there is an author and illustrator, etc.  They learn to make books and have control of the content in them.  While reading to her, she actually is now looking at the words.  Her curiosity is peeked.  No one is teaching her math, but she is starting to understand mathematical concepts entirely through play and experiment with a wide variety of materials.  Music, art and exploration is part of her every day.  To her it is just play.  Structured play in some instances, but play nonetheless.  Not that any of this can't be done at home, but I think that painting preschool as academic based is not the present reality.  I would never put her in a situation where she had to sit at a desk all day.  That is absurd and I don't know of anyone, mainstream or crunchy, that has put their preschooler in that type of setting.  I didn't even know that it existed. 

 

As far as graduations and the like:  my DD's class were in music all year which resulted in a year end production at a theatre here in town.  It was an incredibly happy event for the kids, teachers and parents.  DD is still talking about it and I believe it is a huge confidence booster for the kids.  And yeah, I posted a picture of DD in the production on my Facebook page.  winky.gif

 

 

post #8 of 118

Whoops, forgive me my grammatical errors in my post above.  For some reason I couldn't go back in and edit. 

post #9 of 118

I dont like the 'awards' (our preschool does not do them) but  they do a graduation. It is sweet and fun and the kids sing, have treats, and get a little diploma. Our play-based preschool does introduce academic concepts- but it is not pushed nor do they SIT and drill. Our job is to help prepare our kiddos for Kindergarten, so they take the level kiddos are at and expose them to all sorts of concepts and starter skills to make sure that kids will be successful in K and beyond (two of our kiddos will be homeschooled and the parents were very happy with the gentle approach we have).

 

I think it is odd to expect kids to not 'notice' letters/numbers/etc around their world and be curious. Some kids will want to explore that concept earlier than others and there should be no 'set' age for said exploration. Some kids will be ready at 3 and some at 7. Neither is right or wrong, rather each is the perfect time for each kiddo.
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by ollyoxenfree View Post


 

 

 

It's great that you have found an educational philosophy and method that is consistent with your beliefs. Since your child is still a baby, I suggest that keep an open mind. As much as I find many aspects of Waldorf attractive, a delayed academic setting like Waldorf would have been a terrible fit for my 2 dc. They taught themselves to read when they were 3 y.o. and were absorbed reading chapter books at about the age that a Waldorf school would have finally allowed them to start learning the alphabet. I can't imagine their frustration if they wanted to learn something, and I decided to thwart that natural tendency by avoiding or discouraging it by telling them that they were just too young to learn their letters and numbers. I don't see how that is better or more admirable than pushing them to learn before they are ready. 

 

 



I agree. Our family set up is the same- Waldorf is so very attractive to me, but in the long run, it was NOT a good fit for my kids and their desires/learning styles, etc.



Quote:
Originally Posted by Alyantavid View Post

 

The idea that if your child attends preschool, you aren't letting them be a kid is ridiculous.  Most of preschool is play.    When I had a 1 year old, I had great ideas too.  Then my kid grew up a little and had plenty of his own ideas. 


EXACTLY! I had ideas of how I wanted kiddos to grow up ....and, well they had other ideas! LOL. Yes, we stayed true to a nature-leaning child led that I believe in, but it has adapted as my kids have gotten older.BUT one of my DD is so driven to learn it is not even funny, she drags me along for the ride. I could not/would not tell her no when she asked 'whats that' for letters/numbers/ etc we kept it light, fun, play based, etc and she (and her twin) were early readers. 

 

I also thought we would have a looser schedule, well one of my DDs has special needs a strict routine/schedule keeps her happier and healthier.

 

So you may be amazed at how you think you may parent before kids and/or when they are young and then how you change and grow (just like your kids will!) your ideas as they get older.  I would never be so rigid in my parenting that I could not try my best to meet my childs needs are ACTUALLY vs what I think they should be. 

 

post #10 of 118
Quote:
Originally Posted by P.J. View Post

 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.



So basically what you are saying is that it is okay for your DS to learn reading or math early if he is interested but it isn't okay for your friends' children? Why do you assume that your friends' children are being forced into it?

post #11 of 118

It shouldn't be overlooked how much kids WANT to learn.  They learn real academic skills through play - I feel like all of my kids learned to count while playing hide and seek :) When they got a bit older we would also count backwards or by twos just to mix it up.  My 4 year old is constantly writing a series of letters on the driveway with sidewalk chalk and asking what he spelled.  I am against the whole "race to nowhere" mentality, but play and learning are both fun things...for children and adults of all ages.

 

Soooo...interested that school doesn't start in Germany unntil 1st grade? We have friends who are in the states from several different countries in Europe all of whom start school earlier - ft kinder at 4 - I sort of assumed Germany would be one of them since they invented kinder. Interesting!

post #12 of 118

I was born in 1980, and we had a kindergarten graduation.  And I did more than just nap and play in kindergarten as well.  We were taught beginning math and reading, waaaaay back in kindergarten in 1984-1985.  And even more than that?  I started when I was 4.  Honestly, that's not much different, except now, a 4 year old starting kindergarten is usually not an option.  And this was public school in a very rural area, not some ritsy academic-heavy private school.  I was not scarred for life.  In fact, 26 years later, I'm finishing up my PhD, so I must not hate school that badly... ;-)
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by P.J. View Post

 

 

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.



 

post #13 of 118
Thread Starter 


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Alyantavid View Post

Ugh.

 

Threads like this just stink of judgment, even if you do disguise it as sadness.  Both of my sons went to preschool.  They both graduated and had a little ceremony.  For them, it was more a graduation from daycare since they wouldn't be going there anymore once they started kindergarten.  Their preschool was part of daycare, lasted a couple hours 3 mornings a week and was completely voluntary.  If the kid wanted to play instead of do preschool, that was totally fine.  They aren't sitting at desks memorizing multiplication tables or anything and they worked completely at their own desire.

 

My older son went on to graduate from kindergarten.  As my younger son will do next year.  I'm not sure what problem anyone has with graduation ceremonies for preschoolers and kindergarteners.  As for the competition, every kid probably got best at something.  My older son entered kindergarten reading.  Did I force him to sit down every day until he could?  Of course not.  He wanted to read, there wasn't anything I could have done to stop had I wanted to.  I agree that kids shouldn't be forced into learning anything but I certainly wouldn't hold a kid back who wanted to learn.  He's now 9 and easily dividing and doing fractions, something they only touched on during the school year.  We aren't pushing him into this, we're following his lead.  If he wants to try out college level algebra, I'm not stopping him.  This same kid plays with his friends, goes swimming, rides his bike, digs in the dirt, all those normal kid activities. 

 

The idea that if your child attends preschool, you aren't letting them be a kid is ridiculous.  Most of preschool is play.  Kindergarten is incredibly laid back.  When I had a 1 year old, I had great ideas too.  Then my kid grew up a little and had plenty of his own ideas. 


I think you misread my post, or else I didn't express myself clearly.

 

I didn't say I had anything against a graduation ceremony. In fact, I think it's really important to have rituals to mark the changing of phases in life and the beginning and ending of things. So it's not the graduation I was concerned about. It was the focus on academics.

 

And I made quite a few remarks that if a child expresses interest in learning to read or math or whatever it may be, then it is important to follow their lead and give them the chance to learn. I said that if my son wanted to learn to read at age 2 or 3, I would gladly help him learn. It seems like you skipped that part of my post.

 

What I don't like is that kids are pushed into and either explicitly or subtly expected to learn letters and numbers while they're still toddlers. This is a wild guess, but I would imagine far less than half of children under age four would express a natural urge to learn how to read and write and do math, if it weren't "taught" to them. I am all about "child-led", and I agree with the poster who pointed out that if my son decides he wants to learn to read at age four, then maybe Waldorf would not be the best place for him.

 

post #14 of 118
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by lindberg99 View Post



So basically what you are saying is that it is okay for your DS to learn reading or math early if he is interested but it isn't okay for your friends' children? Why do you assume that your friends' children are being forced into it?


Because I looked at the picture of the preschool and there were all sorts of papers and posters about letters and spelling and numbers. "A is for Apple" type of thing. I wouldn't call that "forcing", but there is some kind of pressure if that is one of the main activities there. I would only offer that to a child (mine or anybody's) if they showed interest (for example, from books, which we read together every day).

 

And I think all kids should be able to direct their own learning to a large extent. Mine and others'.

 

post #15 of 118
Thread Starter 

 

So you may be amazed at how you think you may parent before kids and/or when they are young and then how you change and grow (just like your kids will!) your ideas as they get older.  I would never be so rigid in my parenting that I could not try my best to meet my childs needs are ACTUALLY vs what I think they should be. 

 



I'm sorry, the multi quote thing is not working ...

 

I appreciate your friendly tone, thank you. smile.gif I feel like I'm getting bashed here in most of the rest of this thread, whoa. hide.gif

 

And it seems like nobody understood that I am not imposing a rigid idea on my child. I thought I was clear that my approach is child-led, and if my son is an academic genius and wants to read and write at age two (my mom claimed I wrote my name at age two, so hey...) then I will happily encourage that. I have nothing against a child doing academics at a young age if the impetus comes from within the child and is not put on them from the outside.

 

I guess I didn't make that clear.

post #16 of 118

I agree with you for the most part OP.  I think there is way too much focus on academics early on and we don't just let kids be kids anymore.  Where my dad lived, there was no kindergarten.  School started for everyone in 1rst grade and he got a fantastic education while still enjoying his early childhood.  I think there are lots of things for kids to learn other than numbers and letters--like being kind to others, getting along with peers, problem solving, exploration, etc. 

post #17 of 118

What?  My youngest had preschool graduation (well, continuation, or moving up, or whatever they called it), and he was in a wonderful Montessori program, where he most certainly did not have to sit in a desk and do worksheets or other typical school work.  And my experience is similar in our last preschool, that my now 6 yr old attended for pre-k.  It was play-based, and focused on sensory integration, in most areas.  It was FUN! He wasn't repressed or forced to do anything he didn't want to do.  And this was a school funded by our state, FWIW. 

 

Really, now that I think about it, ditto for the preschool/pre-k programs my older two kids went to, as well (one Montessori, one not).  All four of my kids were all able to direct their own learning, just so you know - that is very possible in good early childhood educational programs, and even in primary school and beyond depending on the dynamics and pedagogy. 

 

I hope you know now that it's not fair to judge your friends on FB just b/c of graduation photos or even pictures of coloring pages their kids have done. 

post #18 of 118
Quote:
Originally Posted by P.J. View Post


 


I think you misread my post, or else I didn't express myself clearly.

 

I didn't say I had anything against a graduation ceremony. In fact, I think it's really important to have rituals to mark the changing of phases in life and the beginning and ending of things. So it's not the graduation I was concerned about. It was the focus on academics.

 

And I made quite a few remarks that if a child expresses interest in learning to read or math or whatever it may be, then it is important to follow their lead and give them the chance to learn. I said that if my son wanted to learn to read at age 2 or 3, I would gladly help him learn. It seems like you skipped that part of my post.

 

What I don't like is that kids are pushed into and either explicitly or subtly expected to learn letters and numbers while they're still toddlers. This is a wild guess, but I would imagine far less than half of children under age four would express a natural urge to learn how to read and write and do math, if it weren't "taught" to them. I am all about "child-led", and I agree with the poster who pointed out that if my son decides he wants to learn to read at age four, then maybe Waldorf would not be the best place for him.

 

I read your post, several times actually.  Since you had an entire paragraph about graduation ceremonies, I assumed (wrongly) that you had a problem with it. 

 

You also pointed out that you actively avoid any books that might teach your child numbers.  Many kids want to learn things, all on their own.  My younger son wanted to do everything his brother did, even though we didn't force him to learn anything, so yeah at 2 and 3, he had his own little piece of paper and pencil and was writing everything his brother did.  Downfall of having more than one kid I guess.

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by P.J. View Post





I'm sorry, the multi quote thing is not working ...

 

I appreciate your friendly tone, thank you. smile.gifI feel like I'm getting bashed here in most of the rest of this thread, whoa. hide.gif

 

And it seems like nobody understood that I am not imposing a rigid idea on my child. I thought I was clear that my approach is child-led, and if my son is an academic genius and wants to read and write at age two (my mom claimed I wrote my name at age two, so hey...) then I will happily encourage that. I have nothing against a child doing academics at a young age if the impetus comes from within the child and is not put on them from the outside.

 

I guess I didn't make that clear.


Your entire OP bashed parents who send their kids to preschool, so I guess you probably should have expected that not everyone would agree with you.  If that's what you were going for, you probably should have posted in the Waldorf forum. 

 

Most posters on this thread have pointed out that preschools and kindergarten is not all about being strapped to a desk and being forced to learn.  Your entire rant is based on your judgment about some pictures when you really don't know anything about preschool.  If you have an educational philosophy that you are happy with, by all means go with it.  But don't assume that if a kid graduates preschool, it means he's being forced against his will to learn to add.  Which, btw, ever try to force a 3 or 4 year old to do anything?  So not happening. 

post #19 of 118


Our friends in Germany did have their kids in school at 4 and 5. They just didn't have an academic style curriculum. I believe Waldorf is from Germany. Waldorf has classes for 4's and 5's, they just don't start reading until later. It's a little misleading to say that kids in Germany are not in school. They are in school, in play-based preschool like most people around here seem to opt for.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by wildmonkeys View Post

It shouldn't be overlooked how much kids WANT to learn.  They learn real academic skills through play - I feel like all of my kids learned to count while playing hide and seek :) When they got a bit older we would also count backwards or by twos just to mix it up.  My 4 year old is constantly writing a series of letters on the driveway with sidewalk chalk and asking what he spelled.  I am against the whole "race to nowhere" mentality, but play and learning are both fun things...for children and adults of all ages.

 

Soooo...interested that school doesn't start in Germany unntil 1st grade? We have friends who are in the states from several different countries in Europe all of whom start school earlier - ft kinder at 4 - I sort of assumed Germany would be one of them since they invented kinder. Interesting!



 

post #20 of 118
Quote:
Originally Posted by wildmonkeys View Post

It shouldn't be overlooked how much kids WANT to learn.  They learn real academic skills through play - I feel like all of my kids learned to count while playing hide and seek :) When they got a bit older we would also count backwards or by twos just to mix it up.  My 4 year old is constantly writing a series of letters on the driveway with sidewalk chalk and asking what he spelled.  I am against the whole "race to nowhere" mentality, but play and learning are both fun things...for children and adults of all ages.

 

Soooo...interested that school doesn't start in Germany unntil 1st grade? We have friends who are in the states from several different countries in Europe all of whom start school earlier - ft kinder at 4 - I sort of assumed Germany would be one of them since they invented kinder. Interesting!



 



Quote:
Originally Posted by whatsnextmom View Post


Our friends in Germany did have their kids in school at 4 and 5. They just didn't have an academic style curriculum. I believe Waldorf is from Germany. Waldorf has classes for 4's and 5's, they just don't start reading until later. It's a little misleading to say that kids in Germany are not in school. They are in school, in play-based preschool like most people around here seem to opt for.

 



 



It may be the terminology that is confusing, too.

"Kindergarten", as invented and practiced in Germany is, as a rule, strictly playbased pre-school/daycare with mixed-ages clasrooms from 3-6. Their schedule may be just halfdays, or may run from 7pm till 5pm, with play-pased preschool-style programming (songs and rhymes, arts and crafts) from 9 am till 12.30 or so, the rest being day-care style supervised play and care. The term "school" would never be used for these institutions - though a pullout program (which may be as rare as once every other week) for the 5-6 year-olds in their last year may be called "pre-school" ("Vorschule). You get more and less structured programs and the odd Montessori or Waldorf program, but apart from the Montessori programs, yes, sadly, the child will be actively discouraged from reading, even in the K year - that's for formal schooling starting in 1st grade (yes, that's probably stemming from strong Waldorf influences). After all, if the child can read, what would the school have left to teach in first grade, following a lockstep curriculum?

It's not ideal by a long shot - there are just as many assumptions and fixed ideas involved about what children at a certain age have to do (or have to want to be doing) as in the academic pre-school movement. It probably works for a majority though, but if your child ends up in the minority, beware....

 

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