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#1 of 118 Old 06-09-2011, 12:53 AM - Thread Starter
 
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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.


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#2 of 118 Old 06-09-2011, 08:00 AM
 
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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. 

 

 

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#3 of 118 Old 06-09-2011, 08:13 AM
 
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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.


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#4 of 118 Old 06-09-2011, 08:16 AM
 
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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. 

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#5 of 118 Old 06-09-2011, 09:08 AM
 
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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.

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#6 of 118 Old 06-09-2011, 09:30 AM
 
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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.

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#7 of 118 Old 06-09-2011, 10:06 AM
 
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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

 

 

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#8 of 118 Old 06-09-2011, 10:12 AM
 
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Whoops, forgive me my grammatical errors in my post above.  For some reason I couldn't go back in and edit. 


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#9 of 118 Old 06-09-2011, 10:43 AM
 
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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.
 

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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.



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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. 

 

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#10 of 118 Old 06-09-2011, 10:56 AM
 
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 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?

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#11 of 118 Old 06-09-2011, 11:41 AM
 
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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!

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#12 of 118 Old 06-09-2011, 11:53 AM
 
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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... ;-)
 

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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.



 


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#13 of 118 Old 06-09-2011, 12:37 PM - Thread Starter
 
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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.

 

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#14 of 118 Old 06-09-2011, 12:41 PM - Thread Starter
 
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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'.

 


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#15 of 118 Old 06-09-2011, 12:51 PM - Thread Starter
 
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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.


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#16 of 118 Old 06-09-2011, 12:55 PM
 
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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. 

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#17 of 118 Old 06-09-2011, 01:05 PM
 
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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. 


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#18 of 118 Old 06-09-2011, 01:07 PM
 
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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.

 

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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. 

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#19 of 118 Old 06-09-2011, 01:34 PM
 
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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.

 

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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!



 


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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!



 



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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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#21 of 118 Old 06-09-2011, 06:55 PM
 
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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'.

 


Surrounding a child with literature, numbers, and shapes allows them to see these things as an option to be interested in.  It isn't something that is forced on them even if there are posters and word walls for kids to copy if they choose to.  My dd attended play-based preschool and they had a wide variety of activities to choose from that included number activities, literature based activities, and writing because the kids were interested in those things but they never forced the material on the kids and the material being there meant that they had a true choice not that they were being pressured  I think you may find more people who believe that letting kids see the alphabet, word walls, and posters of numbers is wrong if you post on the Waldorf board.  I don't personally understand how seeing something academic is pressuring a child but there are probably many posters on that board who feel the same way just as strongly as you do.

 

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#22 of 118 Old 06-09-2011, 07:35 PM
 
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I don't really understand how a little one will be able to easily display their personal interest in numbers and letters if not exposed to them in a kid-friendly manner.m Then again, I don't see how a kid in the modern world could be insulated from the existence of numbers and letters either, even if it isn't in a kid-accessible format.

 

I learned from Sesame Street how to count to 12 in English and 10 in Spanish, and to use the word of the day in funny ways! learned to count to 100 and the letter of the day in Kindergarden (1987) and then would take my blocks and play with them to build houses that also counted and made words. I made paintings of trees and listened to stories in books. We learned to tie our shoes. I'm pretty sure letters, numbers, and Kindergarden did not strip away my childhood.

 

Would I like to send my kid to a kid-lead learning environment from birth to adulthood? Certainly! But sometimes they to be guided and exposed to ideas that never occurred to them first.

 

 


Signatures are sooo mainstream.

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#23 of 118 Old 06-10-2011, 01:17 AM
 
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PJ i can relate a lot to what you 'didnt write'. in one of your emotional moments you wrote your thread and it came out all wrong.

 

you are talking on principle of encouraging letters and numbers and all the academic concepts. 

 

my dd was an early reader of alphabets, kinda early reader (she refused books but would try to read everything else but books), early math realisations. 

 

reading between your lines i completely agree with you. 

 

more so as i see the kind of shower gifts BABIES get. under one. everything is alphabets and numbers. even teething 'keys'. OMG the whole trend towards focusing more on academic stuff really makes my blood boil. 

 

esp. since my dd taught me an early lesson. it took me 3 months to teach her to point to her nose to show me she connects the word nose to her nose (new mom - caved under societal pressure). within 3 months she would ask me parts of the body and she learnt over 50 parts. never again did i 'teach' her again. 

 

i was lucky. dd went to a ps/dc as i worked. totally play based with academics entering in preK. they had fabulous arts and sensory projects. they did work on recognising names and numbers because the kids had to know their cubby. but basic K academic requirement happened about 3 months before K started. so they did do some. they definitely did more academics when they were 5 and missed the cutoff dates. 

 

to date dd remembers that time as the best time of her life. she made her closest friends there including her best buddy when they were 2 years old. sometimes we go years before seeing them again but when they do its like the years didnt exist. 

 

her ps/dc did not have alphabet/number posters on the walls. instead they encouraged science experiments and how to get along with buddies and of course art projects, geometric concepts like blocks, geoboards, iron on beads. they did a lot of concept type of thing. 

 

i was lucky that earlier on i could tell academically dd would not have problems with school.

 

but i can understand people encouraging their kids to do academics. i think perhaps in many cases parents had experience in what it felt like being behind and dont want their children to go thru the same. 

 

yes it does show about society - how focused we have become on academics. dd's reading didnt take off till she was 6. i have found in dd's school most of the kids do teh leap in reading at first or second grade and then some of those very children go into GATE. i am thinking some kind of growth spurt happens that leads to this leap in development.

 

i dont get 'graduation' either. thankfully dd's now school does not do it. but her previous school did at K and the other classes too. the ps had a graduation from ps to real school. i didnt much care for it either. even though it was more of a farewell as children separated to go to different schools. 

 

with dd's personality if i didnt have to do dc she would have definitely enjoyed ps. 

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#24 of 118 Old 06-10-2011, 03:51 AM
 
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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.

 

You're not getting bashed. You're getting the same types of responses I would get if I came here and complained about seeing pictures of a Waldorf school on a FB friend page and offering up an opinion of all the things that were wrong with Waldorf. eg, "They don't have any letters on the wall! Back when I went to kindergarten, we learned letters. Kids should do things the same way I did. I don't understand how they expect their children to succeed if they won't expose them to letters."

 

And also, keep in mind that your friends might not have much of a choice of where to send their children to preschool/school. I live in a town of about 20,000. I have never heard of Waldorf except on these boards. I'm sure there are some Waldorf schools in the city about an hour from here but I couldn't drive my child an hour to school each day. We have one play based school and a Montessori (both of which are pretty pricey). There are a few church based preschools, which a lot of people would eliminate if they don't go to church. If you can't afford to pay much for preschool, you are left with head start or the public schools preschool, both of which, while they allow for plenty of play, do work on teaching the children letters and numbers. Sure, people could homeschool but in reality, that isn't going to work out for everyone. I think it is great that you have the option to send your child to the type of school you believe in, but remember that not everyone has such a choice.
 

 

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#25 of 118 Old 06-10-2011, 07:32 AM
 
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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 think this is an understandable belief from a first-time parent. Alyantavid has an excellent point about younger siblings who are exposed to letters and numbers simply because they have older brothers and sisters: 

 

 

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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.

 

 

 

My youngest sister, youngest of 5, is a great example of this. We all shared our toys, books and games with her. We played school with her. She was closest in age to my brother, who started kindergarten 2 years ahead of her. Every afternoon, he would come home and teach her what he learned that day - at her request. She ate it up. She desperately wanted to be like us. By the time she started kindergarten, she had finished the curriculum several times over. There was no parental pressure and no school authority pressure. It all arose naturally with the children. 

 

I've witnessed the same phenomenon of sibling teaching/learning with my own 2 children and many times in other families. If learning is okay within a family unit, I don't understand how it becomes objectionable in a non-family setting like a pre-school. 

OP, if you have a second child, I don't know how you could avoid exposing him/her to letters and numbers at an early age without actively discouraging siblings from sharing their toys, books and experiences. It will be awkward, send a poor message and set a bad example. If it's acceptable for the second or third or seventh child in a family to have access to these things, it seems that it should be okay for the firstborn too.  

 


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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).

 


Well, I haven't been to Germany, so maybe it's different. I have traveled a lot of other places though, and everywhere I go (unless it's backwoods camping), it's impossible to avoid text. We live in a print-rich environment. Signage dominates the landscape. There are letters and numbers everywhere. In my experience, young children are very observant and pick out numbers and letters from road signs, shop signs, billboards, bus shelters, license plates, corporate cars and trucks, numbers on houses, store bags, clothing (t-shirt and sweatshirt designs), it's endless. Even when we go for hikes or to the beach, there is signage. This doesn't even address the print within our house. We have books, magazines, and newspapers lying about. Even our artwork has numbers and letters (I have a large framed print of a postage stamp on the wall). I find text is inescapable everywhere I go. 

 

I recall my niece as a toddler, recognizing the letter "S" on my school sweatshirt (from the letters of my school's name) and getting excited. Her parents had no idea where she learned "S". She was an observant child and somehow connected the letter and the sound. It opened a door to a new world for her and it was lovely to watch.

 

Simply having print on the walls is not "pressure". From past discussions about learning to read at MDC and elsewhere, it's my understanding that many advocates of delayed reading instruction (or no instruction at all), suggest most children will learn naturally to read if they are raised in a print-rich environment, such as I have described. It seems inconsistent and harsh to say that text on the walls in a preschool is some form of pressure, but it's just natural learning every else. 

 

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#26 of 118 Old 06-10-2011, 07:35 AM
 
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There are worse things in the world than little kids being exposed to letters and numbers.  I wouldn't be so sure about the delaying or not providing your kid with exposure to academic or intellectual ideas (ie books, a la waldorf).  The impetus for everything a child experiences can't come from within.  It's part of being a parent to guide and introduce.  My kids wouldn't have had the impetus to ask to hear AA Milne read aloud to them as little ones.  We did it because I thought they would enjoy it, and they did.

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#27 of 118 Old 06-10-2011, 08:35 AM
 
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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....

 

 

FWIW, my daughter was in a preschool in Germany for some months.  It was a mixed-aged room with kids from 0-12 years old.  It actually looked a lot like a Montessori classroom with some more toys thrown in and stuff for older kids too.  There were TONS of books and most times when we dropped her off/picked her up they were reading to her.  They read to her A LOT there. She'll actually be returning for a month this winter and I don't think it will be a very big transition for her from her Montessori school. 

 

Most of my friends in Germany are pretty similar to my American friends and expose their kids to reading through books and play.  I only know one Waldorf family there and their kids are all grown.


ETA: One big difference, though, is that most German preschools and families that I know make a point to put English (or sometimes French) in the classrooms so I suppose there is some direct instruction in that sense. 

 

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#28 of 118 Old 06-10-2011, 01:08 PM
 
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One does not have to "teach" a little kid to read. Simply reading to the kid, answering questions about it etc produces what is called "literacy rich enviroment".  My kids went to Emilio Reggio preshool. It is very hands on, very child lead but they also had books, numbers etc because this is what kids asked for.

 

I did not drill my kids with flashcards on reading on math. We went grocery shopping and I would point out to the label apple above the apples if they asked me what the label was for.  They counted peaches because it is fun. They played in the mud at home and came from preshool covered in paint and flour. at age 4 each of them started reading sign on stores out of the blue. Before  I could say "OMG" they started reading books.

 

You know what sucks and what scary? DOGMA. Any dogma. Babywise dogma, AP dogma, Budhist dogma or communist dogma. And assumptions. Not every preshool that displays letters is academic drilling hell. For some kids, reading early is part of their early childhood, for others, it is not.

 

There is no ONE RIGHT WAY.  There are some truly wrong things such as abuse, violence etc...everything is is just part of rich diverse way humanity raises offsprings.

 

 

My video game, TV watching kids meditate at our zen center, take care of cats, are amazing cooks,  avid opera and museum  goers. They eat everything from soba to blinis. They are very critical of commercials and can point out to you what marketing devices is use to create one ad or another in 5 seconds flat. Yes,  they spend a lot of time on the Internet too.

 

 

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#29 of 118 Old 06-10-2011, 02:41 PM
 
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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'.

 


This is nonsensical.  How on earth can they show interest if they aren't exposed to it?  Your 4yo is not going to walk up to you and say "Mummy dear, I feel there is something missing in my life.  Some way to enumerate objects, so that I can tell you exactly how many fish sticks I would like for dinner without having to perform intricate charades.  Really, Mummy?  There is?  "Numbers," you say?  How fascinating!  I must learn more.  Now if only there were some way to communicate, silently, perhaps even across great distances." 

 

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#30 of 118 Old 06-10-2011, 05:09 PM
 
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My experience is that kids are interested in what parents do. My DH and I love to read. We read a lot. So, it was not surprising that my kids were interested in letters and books.

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