Originally Posted by cchrissyy
I think this article explains it well:
" I've learned that today's young parents are under so much
pressure to not only send their kids to preschool at age 3, but to
start preparing them ("readiness") even earlier than 3 that they
feel they must call themselves homeschoolers so people won't think
their little ones aren't being educated."
This article bummed me out on several levels that I consider relevant to the present discussion and the present forum. Let me say, as background, that I would have sent my child to preschool just before age 3 not because it's what's done, or because I was concerned that she'd fall behind other kids (I'm far too cocky for that
), but because I believed in it. I used to be into Montessori, which is just one of many deeply thought out methods of early childhood education. Even the standard "high quality" non-academic nursery school is not well characterized as "just play play play" (a phrase I often read). It is a prepared environment with self-conscious facilitators, and it's the product of deep thought and research over many generations.
When I went through my mini-preschool crisis, I reached life-altering conclusions about education and became a committed unschooler. Contra Barbara Frank, not only don't I believe that my child needs a formal program at age 5, I don't believe that she needs one, ever, unless she chooses it for herself.
What strikes me about anti-preschool rhetoric is how patronizing a lot of it sounds. And not just to those misguided young parents. Barbara Frank does not appear to think with the mind of a child. What's a "lazy" afternoon at the park, again? I guess I lost it in my 4-year-old's furious dash from one physical and mental challenge to the next: climbing, running, jumping, playing ball, socializing, experimenting with the water fountain, examining the plants and animals, asking about the grounds equipment and other people's customs and motivations and what causes the weather. Why finger paint specifically, instead of using brushes? My 16-month-old can do both with tempera paint, and she also experiments with other ways of applying paint: pouring, dripping, tossing. She is engrossed in the visual and textural aspects of what she is perceiving and creating. It drives me crazy when I hear people making what young children do sound little and cute: "just" play, nothing serious. That kind of language is completely adult-centered. Sure, to us, it might feel lazy to stay at the park instead of getting home and working, and it might look cute to play with dolls. But the child is doing the child's work, and while it is joyous and ebulliant and motivated by a wonderful sense of humor, there is nothing in the world more serious!
Telling parents to "just play" with their kids is doing them a huge disservice. It implies that no special thought is required, anyone can just intuitively provide everything a young child needs. That's not true at all. For example, many of us were raised in such a way that our kneejerk response might be to discourage a 16-month-old from "misusing" paint, or to think that a 16-month-old was too young to benefit from painting, or that it was all too much mess and trouble. Many of us were raised to value representational art over non-representational, to try to teach young kids how to draw representationally, to make various kinds of comments that stifle creativity. Understanding how children generally relate to art as they grow, forming ourselves in truly observing, appreciating, and responding what they are doing , is incredibly important, and it is by no means intuitive for most parents. I've seen tons of parents parenting intuitively, both as a child and now as a fellow parent, and I can tell you it never looked anything at all like remarking casually that the toddler seemed to be making curved lines on the (heavyweight, 12 x 18") paper with her tempera paint. It looked a lot more like asking the child, who had been struggling with discount tray watercolors on newsprint, "What's that supposed to be?" Maybe some of you travel in more sophisticated circles than I do, but I'm just sayin'.
By the way, at the end of the day, I am by no means saying that kids need a formal program, or that parents who think of their role prior to age 6 in terms that do not
involve phrases like homeschooling, unschooling, early education
are doing them a disservice. AT ALL. I FULLY support whatever rationale people want to use in finding a self-description that feels comfortable for them. However, it really and truly bothers me that I have to wonder, when I take my dd to a homeschooling group event so that she can meet other kids who aren't starting school (unlike EVERY kid in her neighborhood), or when I come on here and consider taking the plunge and posting in an unschooling thread, whether parents of older kids are, like Barbara Frank, feeling "bewildered" and wondering, "What's her hurry?" and speculating on what I must have been conditioned or pressured to think. I just don't get it: Homeschoolers are already a tiny minority. Why create even more exclusion and anxiety for people who are trying to find support and comradery?