Thursday, November 08, 2007

thoughts on early education article

I'm confused about how they divided the preschools into "social" vs. "academic" in the study cited in the article. Couldn't some schools be both?

I know that some preschools definitely stress the "social" aspects. Lidia went to a preschool like that when she was three. There was a lot of free play time and they focused on one letter per week. Lidia already knew the alphabet and she expressed disappointment that she wasn't learning to read.

That's when I started helping her learn (at her insistence) and she could read before she was four. In the article it says, "Researchers who've been marinating in reading studies for years say a tiny percentage of children - maybe 3 percent, maybe a little more or less - can be classified as truly early readers. These 3- or 4-year-olds understand phonics and context, and they will likely keep up their accelerated reading pace throughout their school years." Lidia fell into this category and she has kept up her accelerated reading pace. However, I still wish I had not taught her to read so early. Why? I think if I had waited she might have been more exited about reading. Lidia was a reluctant reader for several years. It didn't interest her very much. It was like, "Been there, done that." If I had waited until she was older to teach her, the excitement may have lasted longer. But who knows? Hindsight is 20/20. Lidia is now starting to enjoy reading again. She is very particular about what she reads, but when she finds a book she likes, she devours it.

Lidia's second year of preschool she went to what I suppose would be categorized as an "academic" preschool. She was encouraged to read, learn math facts, and study geography. She loved the learning part and did much better socially in that school where she seemed to have more in common with the other students. Marcus also went to that preschool. He had shown zero interest in learning the alphabet and didn't know all the letters when he started that September, just having turned four. Before Christmas he could read. The teacher thought I'd taught him and I thought she'd taught him. I don't think Lidia and Marcus were less enthusiastic about learning in first grade because they'd been to this "academic" preschool, in fact I think their experiences there helped them to love learning.

So, I have to say I'm surprised by those findings. They don't fit our experience. But maybe when they say "academic" they are talking about the bizarre, extreme places described in the article.

What did you think about the findings about the varying linguistic backgrounds of children coming from different socio-economic backgrounds? When I read that my first thought was what an enormous burden we place on our schools to try to make up for that via "No Child Left Behind" and the like.

I am in favor of art history being taught to elementary school children. In fact, it's more important to me that my children love and understand art than knowing the facts about all the stupid wars of the world. However, I had to laugh at the idea of teaching a 3-month-old about art with flashcards. To appreciate art, children need to first appreciate the beauty in nature, including the human body and realize that God is the ultimate artist. They need to enjoy their senses. That's what babies and toddlers should be doing rather than recognizing Cezanne from Monet. And when they are older they should see art in museums, not on flashcards.


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Cocoa said...

Some of the findings don't correlate with my own experiences either. I was an early reader (age 3) and a couple of my children were early readers adn we all still LOVE to read. There has never been a time when we weren't interested. My later readers aren't interested in reading at all. I find myself saying "If only I had taught them earlier."

I watched a program on the Discovery Health channel a couple of months ago about studies done on children and music. They found that children who started to play instruments, any instruments, while young (between the ages of 4-8) increased their brain size and were on average much smarter than children who didn't play any instruments. It was fascinating to see the differences in the brain scans.

ave said...

I think that the article will be very true for me. My son has been read to daily since birth, we played classical music to him while he was in the womb, and as an infant, but nothing has made him have any type of scholarly desires or goals. (I will say that he is very advanced in the argueing department).

Auntie Lee said...

I do not think you can separate social interaction with academics. For instance I was bullied in high school and could not concentrate or learn during that time. Small children are no different. They need to feel safe and comfortable to learn. Part of that is social structure and consistency. I have also taught autistic children and basically everything is very structured so that they feel safe. If they feel safe they learn very fast.

I was wondering at what age are you talking about when you say pre-school. Here it is the law that children start kindergarten at 4 yrs. but they start very slowly. Most often they start on half days then work their way up. Parents must go into the school with the child every day. I liked that much better than in the U.S. where kids are just dropped off.

I sent my kids to the Montessori school. I liked the idea of them helping to keep the school clean and I liked the idea that if they are interested in a particular thing to learn than that is stimulated. If you have a child that likes to read than great…no problem…but what do you do about those kids that hate to read. Believe me, reading to kids every day and taking them to art museums and things does not work!!! At least not on its own. It only works on kids that like it or want it. If they do not want it they get older and think you are a freak and stop listening. Schools are based on reading NOT math’s and sciences, those are important too. If you have a child that does not like to read than shoving it into their heads does not help. My kids were read to every night since birth. They went to all the museums in the area and started hating it. I changed tactics and started learning about Manga art, CGA, alternative art, musicals and even commercial art and graphic art (which is in our daily lives). It seemed to work, they see art in everything. Now we are working on the philosophies behind the art because art on its own means nothing. It is usually an expression or a reaction to or for something.

Art flash card??? Who’s the idiot that thought that one up? That’s stupid.

Auntie Lee said...

By the way Ave, arguing is also a skill. Maybe you could look up stuff on debating, you know start him off young. The only danger is him getting interested in politics and that would be scary. If I remember right he has a healthy interest in toy cars. That will keep him on the straight and narrow.