Prerequisite to Kindergarten: Instead of demanding four-year-olds talk of geometric “attributes,” how about getting them to show up the first day of kindergarten with great big smiles on their faces?
The New York Times is praising a new study in a report titled “Free Play or Flashcards? New Study Nods to More Rigorous Preschools.” The study itself is titled “Do academic preschools yield stronger benefits? Cognitive emphasis, dosage, and early learning?” The authors are researchers from the Institute of Human Development, University of California, Berkeley and the Food and Drug Administration. But I am not going to spend much time reading this study.
The first mistake these researchers make, is that many Americans want to see the word “rigor” buried. It’s mean-spirited, and we recognize that people who use rigor and preschool, in the same breath, know little about children, or, worse, they don’t like them. So “rigorous” in the title, especially when it is getting a nod, is troubling.
It’s a study done on low and middle class children. I think many are also tired of pushing this group of children to learn. We understand that poor and middle class students do well with all the stuff wealthy students have in school. Why didn’t this study include a private school like Sidwell? At least then, if children grow up mal-adapted due to rigor, their parents will be able to afford therapy.
But, really, children are children. Studies that separate the rich from the poor and middle class raise questions. They seem un-American. The big question is why? Why expect preschoolers to achieve at faster rates than ever before? What’s the objective—really? Should ten-year-old children be put into the workforce, when there aren’t enough jobs for twenty-three year olds?
Why go through the trouble of having a child, if they are made to become an adult before their time? Why do these researchers care so much about who “outperforms” who? Most of us don’t want preschool teenagers. That period comes soon enough! We’re sick of hearing young children can and should work above and beyond their age and development!
We don’t live in a dystopian society where children are born with extra brain power that needs to be corralled for the good of mankind. Why are we continually misled to believe that children have brains today that are different from children in the past?
We understand already how children learn. We have studied Piaget and many scientists, child development experts, who taught us how children develop. So studies about rigor seem like trickery. Many of us are concerned, that much of this is about placing children in front of computers, where they will sit still and do their schooling.
It’s about getting rid of democratic public schools and teachers. If children can learn to act older, and pay attention for longer periods of time, they will do as they are told. They will focus longer. They will be able to learn at home, in a charter warehouse, or sitting outside in the park with a digital device.
Researchers of this study are wrong to use rigor to convince politicians they have a reason for funding preschool. Politicians and researchers should be about the ethical treatment of children. We should show other countries how to treat young children well.
We don’t want child oddities, children forced to know facts and figures, and pushed to read before they’re ready. Little children don’t need to be browbeaten to learn. It could backfire. They could easily learn to hate learning.
Preschools should be about love. They should encourage children to enjoy learning about other preschoolers who are different, but fun and interesting. And play is sacred. Dressing up and playing make believe, and building a Lego structure are critical. Play is where children really learn. And good teachers help make this happen through good guidance.
A preschooler should never be hungry or have a toothache. They should have lovely books to read and be read to often. Dancing, art, and joyful music should be a daily affair.
So I’m not interested in this study. I’m just not.