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Thread: Article: Too Much, Too Soon (formal education)

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    Default Article: Too Much, Too Soon (formal education)

    I came across this article suggesting that children are being put into formal education too soon, and that evidence suggests play based learning until around age 7 is better for development.

    What do you think of this? Do you think we push our kids in the USA too early? What do you think of our preschool, kindergarten, and first grade curriculum? Do you think they are more play based or formal learning?

    http://www.cam.ac.uk/research/discus...e-the-evidence

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    I agree wholeheartedly with the article, which I am sure comes as no surprise to anyone who "knows" me.
    I've read a lot of literature as a young adult and early childhood educator, and then later as a parent, that supports the idea of play based learning until ages 7-8. Research on brain development has shown early academics are a detriment to the social, cognitive, problem solving, self directed learning that happens during the younger years.
    My limited experience with public school early years was that it was not at all play based with very limited free time and lots of worksheets with repetitive tracing and the like. I do believe, and hope, that many high quality early childhood settings are play based if the educators pay any attention at all to the latest research on early brain development.

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    I agree to some degree. Most European schools start at 7, UK being an exception. The daycare/preschools there are very play based.

    Our preschool where the boys go is entirely play based and very delopmental. Very expensive too LOL.

    However as a child I was very interested in acaddmics as soon as i was 5 and there were little opportunities for me as i had 2 full time working parents. I semi taught myself to read at age 6 and could not wait for school to start. I know there were other kids like me too. I think a better educational system should be more flexible and allowing the kids who are not ready for formal education to follow more basic play based programs till they r 7 but those who are interested in learning should be allowed to learn. Speaking from personal experience as someone who grew in the other system, if a child is not challenged, the child will become bored and cause trouble.

    So we should come up as a system that does not overwhelm our children but allows afvanced opportunities for those who need them

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    I think during all my years before college I simply smoked the exams and very few classes challenged me. I can write a book "the various ways to cause trouble ages 6-18." This book will be every parent's nightmare. Lol.

    However, what I do not undertstand is why academics get pushed harder and harder at an earlier age when all the evidence shows that it is detrimental.

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    Sorry for the typos but iPhone makes it difficult to type

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    I just watched a couple Ken Robinson videos about education systems and what he thinks need to change. Really fascinating. He talked about how there is this big push for "standardization". Teach the same, test the same, expect the same from all children. But children are so diverse in how they learn. He suggested we should be going in the opposite direction, providing several different kinds of environments for children. I don't know that the public school system will be able to change, but I do think that there has been a push in that direction with more parents choosing different options for their children (charters, private, homeschool, etc.) that have more flexibility in deciding what kind of educational framework they want to provide.

    The videos I watched are here, in case anyone is interested. He is entertaining and very interesting to listen to.
    http://www.ted.com/talks/ken_robinso...ivity#t-709082
    http://www.upworthy.com/heres-why-si...art?g=2&c=ufb1

    Quote Originally Posted by tanyachap View Post
    However, what I do not undertstand is why academics get pushed harder and harder at an earlier age when all the evidence shows that it is detrimental.
    I don't understand this either! Its obviously not working, and yet the push continues to be earlier and harder.

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    practically everything i have ever read on the subject agress that while there may be initial differences in children who have been in an acedemic setting early, virtually all gains are lost and the non-preschooled child catches up and all are equal by 3rd or 4th grade. Yet they continue to push programs like Head start. The disparity IS socioeconomic, but providing preschool for "at risk" kids doesnt make a difference long term. Oh course it is probably beneficial for a child to be in preschool if the alternative is home watching TV, but the answershould be education parents not toddlers.

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    runningmom, there is a large body of evidence stating that a high quality early childhood experience (and high quality does mean child lead and learning through play) can lead to higher rates of high school graduation and better employment for children from lower SES backgrounds. The data are there (one example). The problem is that the vast majority of early childhood programs in this country, both public and private, don't meet the definition of high quality. This past year where I have provided speech services in a variety of private preschools. One of those I would consider to have been high quality, 2-3 were poor quality, and the rest fell somewhere in the middle. So when people look at the data considering the programs that are actually out there, no, they are not helping, but what is so important to learn from this is the difference we have the ability to make in the lives of certain children and the crucial need to step up our game.

    Interestingly, for children from middle class and wealthy homes, preschool doesn't make nearly as much difference. The effect is pretty much gone by third grade.

    I agree that we need to make some big changes to the preschool and early elementary years. Big changes. However, it is important to remember that in the UK, where that article was written, formal schooling begins at 3 or 4. Here preschool is optional and because of that, there are more play-based programs available for people who make the effort to seek them out. Unfortunately, many parents just don't know what to look for.
    Me (40) DH (47) & furbabies * m/c 7/08 4/12 11/12

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    I tend to agree. We held the trio out of school last year, instead of having them start K at 5 they will be starting this year at 6....and I am SO glad we did. Our Kindy class is also only 3 hours a day, so they won't hit 1st grade...and full day school, until they are 7. However I know other countries that do early school and year round school, and have programs that are much more stringent than ours, such as China and Japan, yet they are academically better than we are...so I am not so sure the argument holds water totally.
    Last edited by TripMomma; 07-19-2014 at 02:17 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by TripMomma View Post
    However I know other countries that do early school and year round school, and have programs that are much more stringent than ours, such as China and Japan, yet they are academically better than we are...so I am not so sure the argument holds water totally.
    They do better on standardized testing but actually have extreme difficulty when they got jobs. Bosses complain of the employees' lack of ability to problem solve, think outside of the box and be creative.

    I also think that we push formal learning way too early. My soon to be five year old has spent nearly all of her life playing. We didn't do preschool beyond a simple reading program with workbooks that she LOVED to do. She begged to do school each day. We are starting a home school kindergarten program soon, but again it is lots of reading and beginning math, writing and reading. It should never take more than 45 minutes of our day. Sometimes I panic that she doesn't know how to write her name but she'll pick it up super quick now that she is ready to do so. And, it might take us two years to do her kindergarten curriculum if we find that she isn't super interested right now. We'll wait. The same thing with my 3.5 year old. I am all set for him to start the preschool curriculum but if it is like pulling teeth we'll wait until he is older, too.

    Why force something now that a child will pick up in a year or two in one-tenth the amount of time/effort?
    Jessica (33) and Ryan (33). Madelyn born August 5, 2009; Malachi born December 23, 2010 and Nathaniel born July 19, 2013. Lost a loved baby 02/29/12, 05/14/12 and 07/05/12 all due a serious allergic reaction to fabric softener.
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    For my son there would have been no way we would have waited until he was 7 to start school formally. I think it varies per child. He was in speech therapy from 18 months to 3 years and its not school however after that preschool is encouraged he didn't go until 4 years old to preschool because of the potty training issue. I have zero patience to try to home school my children. They would be totally cheated if I tried in our family or even to wait it out. There isn't a reason a child should have to wait it out if they want to go to school. Cody really wanted to go to school at age 4 for Preschool so we did that he wanted to go sooner but, was a late potty trainer. His first school was pretty flexible with having play stations which he loved he didn't like his school for the winter to summer semester and neither did we. We are trying a charter school because he isn't able to go back to the first school he enjoyed. The charter school offers more physical activities likes working in their garden and tending to chickens. Their curriculum has more active time in between each subject they have about 5-10 minutes to stretch which is good. I do think more activities should be included into the school but, waiting longer to go to school depends on each child. I think its great if a mom or dad has the time, skill, and mostly patience to teach their children at home and stay at par in the early years that's awesome. Its not a cookie cutter type of deal when every situation works for every family. Cody though he had a couple of struggles still wanted to get on the bus and go to school daily. Sophia wants to go now that her big brother goes but, she won't qualify until next fall for public preschool or the YMCA.
    Last edited by mom2CodySophia0811; 07-19-2014 at 05:27 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by mom2CodySophia0811 View Post
    For my son there would have been no way we would have waited until he was 7 to start school formally. I think it varies per child. He was in speech therapy from 18 months to 3 years and its not school however after that preschool is encouraged he didn't go until 4 years old to preschool because of the potty training issue. I have zero patience to try to home school my children. They would be totally cheated if I tried in our family or even to wait it out. There isn't a reason a child should have to wait it out if they want to go to school. Cody really wanted to go to school at age 4 for Preschool so we did that he wanted to go sooner but, was a late potty trainer. His first school was pretty flexible with having play stations which he loved he didn't like his school for the winter to summer semester and neither did we. We are trying a charter school because he isn't able to go back to the first school he enjoyed. The charter school offers more physical activities likes working in their garden and tending to chickens. Their curriculum has more active time in between each subject they have about 5-10 minutes to stretch which is good. I do think more activities should be included into the school but, waiting longer to go to school depends on each child. I think its great if a mom or dad has the time, skill, and mostly patience to teach their children at home and stay at par in the early years that's awesome. Its not a cookie cutter type of deal when every situation works for every family. Cody though he had a couple of struggles still wanted to get on the bus and go to school daily. Sophia wants to go now that her big brother goes but, she won't qualify until next fall for public preschool or the YMCA.
    i don't think the answer is for everyone to homeschool. We are talking about education reform.

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    Oh, yes, I'm not saying that everyone should home school but rather that I agree with what the article and research say and use that mentality in home schooling.
    Jessica (33) and Ryan (33). Madelyn born August 5, 2009; Malachi born December 23, 2010 and Nathaniel born July 19, 2013. Lost a loved baby 02/29/12, 05/14/12 and 07/05/12 all due a serious allergic reaction to fabric softener.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bridget View Post
    i don't think the answer is for everyone to homeschool. We are talking about education reform.
    This article was confusing did it mean not really the age vs the content of the school? A child could go at 5 but, have a different curriculum at the public school that's more play? I was confused because I saw others were mentioning the age factor too like starting later.
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    The article and other research say that play is very important to young children. So, I would say that the push is not necessarily to keep kids out of school but to change what we do with the children. Various types of play should be prominent with less structured and rote teaching.
    Jessica (33) and Ryan (33). Madelyn born August 5, 2009; Malachi born December 23, 2010 and Nathaniel born July 19, 2013. Lost a loved baby 02/29/12, 05/14/12 and 07/05/12 all due a serious allergic reaction to fabric softener.
    My Ovulation Chart , My blog about MCAD

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    Quote Originally Posted by JJorn View Post
    The article and other research say that play is very important to young children. So, I would say that the push is not necessarily to keep kids out of school but to change what we do with the children. Various types of play should be prominent with less structured and rote teaching.
    Oh OK I'm sorry I misunderstood. Yes, I do think more play would be better.
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    Quote Originally Posted by JJorn View Post
    They do better on standardized testing but actually have extreme difficulty when they got jobs. Bosses complain of the employees' lack of ability to problem solve, think outside of the box and be creative.
    One of the videos posted discussed how our educational approach is killing creativity, and I can only assume that it would be the same or worse in places that push it even harder than our country.
    He talked about how in order to be creative, there has to be a willingness to be wrong sometimes. Young children have this. If they don't know, they will try. They are not afraid of being wrong yet, and therefore are very creative and have fantastic divergent thinking (which is essential for problem solving). However, as they go through formal education, the focus is on getting the ONE *right* answer. There is heavy focus on getting test scores up, and that means teaching children to get as few "wrong" answers as possible. Being wrong becomes stigmatized, and as children go through grades, their ability for divergent thinking becomes less and less. They become afraid of being wrong, and therefore, their creativity tanks.
    His assertion was that we are losing a huge amount of innovative and creative people because of this.

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    I think the idea of holding kids back, or redshirting, is a kind of band-aid approach for OUR current school system. Because real, meaningful education reform doesn't seem to be on the horizon, some parents have determined that the best way around this issue is to hold their kids out of school until they are a bit older. The idea being that if children aren't really ready for formal/structured learning until 7, keep them out of it until 7.

    I have to say, on this point, I was VERY happy to have a November baby who wouldn't qualify for school until shortly before his 6th birthday. We also opted to keep him out of preschool, as well. He will be starting Kindergarten in the fall at a local Charter school.

    My son began teaching himself to read sometime in his 3rd year of life. We realized he was able to read signs, etc at 3.5 and now, completely self-fueled, is reading at a 2nd grade level. I'm not so certain that this would have happened if he hadn't been given the time and freedom to basically do what he wanted to do. If he was spending 4-8 hours a day in a preschool setting he probably would not have been allowed to go off on his own for hours on end and just study books. Conversely, he didn't seem too interested in numbers and writing ... and if he were in a more structured setting would he have already been turned off of those things? Because we knew that's now where his interests lay, we didn't pressure numbers and writing and in the last 3 months or so he's shown an interest in counting (can get to 100 with some help, to 30 with no help) and is asking how to write certain letters (though he can write his name and some other things) whenever he's interested in writing a particular word.

    But all of that is specific to my child, and specifically my firstborn. I have considered "redshirting" DS1 but I believe he is ready to enter the US school system this year. I am hopeful that the charter school that we selected, and received a seat at in the lottery, will be a good fit. Their classroom sizes are maxed at 16 kids. Having taught for a year myself, I know that class size is a HUGE factor in what a teacher is able to do.

    Who knows, yet, what will be best for DS2 and DS3; I do believe a less is more approach, especially in the early years, is likely to be the best for most kids ... unless we're talking about a situation where that free time is spent in from of the TV all day.
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    If you think you do too much in US, come to China or India and see what too much really is. I do however understand about "too early" - I believe formal education shouldn't start before the age of 7.

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    Quote Originally Posted by TripMomma View Post
    I tend to agree. We held the trio out of school last year, instead of having them start K at 5 they will be starting this year at 6....and I am SO glad we did. Our Kindy class is also only 3 hours a day, so they won't hit 1st grade...and full day school, until they are 7. However I know other countries that do early school and year round school, and have programs that are much more stringent than ours, such as China and Japan, yet they are academically better than we are...so I am not so sure the argument holds water totally.
    I think that was a good decision. I am a Sept baby and just barely missed the cut. I was tested and my mom was given the option to put me in or not. After talking to a friends mom who was a psychologist, she decided not. So at five I did some pre-K stuff, age six for K and age 7 for first grade. I'm glad she did and found it to be an advantage. I know a number of other Sept babies who moms did the opposite and pushed them ahead and pretty much all of them struggled except one.

    I would likely not push my kid to start school early either. If he/she shows an interest in reading, we can do that together at home (I'm big on books. ) If not, he or she will learn eventually.

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    Quote Originally Posted by cheeksy View Post
    If you think you do too much in US, come to China or India and see what too much really is.
    Every time I see articles/posts about how much of an academic burden kids here have, I think about this. And my own experience, when I came here, which was basically not studying at all in (part of) 11th and 12th grades, and then of course struggling early on in college because I had no work ethic - stuff they were doing here in 11th and 12th grades, we had covered in 10th, back home. While I don't believe in pushing academics early unless the kid is so inclined, I do believe that kids need to be kept challenged. Personally, and with kids I've known (nephews, nieces, cousins, etc.), I haven't noticed redshirting to confer any particular advantages academically; the ones that tend to be academically inclined, tend to be academically inclined. I have noticed age to be a considerable advantage when it comes to certain extracurriculars, however.
    Last edited by Suja; 07-22-2014 at 10:52 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Suja View Post
    While I don't believe in pushing academics early unless the kid is so inclined, I do believe that kids need to be kept challenged.
    I agree, completely. That's why it's SO important to know your kid and their needs/limits, etc.

    Quote Originally Posted by Cosmosmom View Post
    I know a number of other Sept babies who moms did the opposite and pushed them ahead and pretty much all of them struggled except one.
    This was me. I started too soon (9/24 bday) and struggled with several things and tended to be friends with the kids in the grade below me. I think I turned out okay, but I wonder if I would have had an easier time, academically, if they had waited or held me back at some point. I did fine, I have a B.A. in English and a good job ... but you just never know about the what if's.
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    Quote Originally Posted by khadijavye View Post
    This was me. I started too soon (9/24 bday) and struggled with several things and tended to be friends with the kids in the grade below me. I think I turned out okay, but I wonder if I would have had an easier time, academically, if they had waited or held me back at some point. I did fine, I have a B.A. in English and a good job ... but you just never know about the what if's.
    It's definitely hard to know how it would have been otherwise. I'm a Sept 12 and we look about the same age. So you must have been class of 96 and I was class of 97. I found school pretty easy but in junior high and high school there was enough of a challenge with the honors classes or doing extra credit or picking the more challenging book to do my report on. And I love reading so there was always that if I finished early.

    What made the decision for my mom was when she was asked, what age do you want Jennifer going to college? Age 17, almost 18 or age 18, almost 19? She really wanted the extra year with me.

    Jennifer, 35, DH 36

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    I think its important to note that this is not saying not to start any kind of learning until 7. Its saying play based learning vs. traditional academic (sitting at a desk, doing worksheets, listening to the teacher talk at the front of the room, etc.) type learning. There are so many things a child can learn when they are engaged in play. That can mean setting up invitations for play with letters/numbers/shapes/colors/patterns/textures, etc. Loose parts and open-ended play encourage learning a host of different skills, and there is opportunity for teachers and parents to count together, sort, do patterns, etc. Plus all the opportunities for invention, construction, deconstruction, learning about physics, problem solving, social skills, gross and fine motor skills, imagination and creativity, etc., etc.

    I definitely agree that children should be challenged, but I don't think that play based learning and providing challenges are mutually exclusive.

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    i agree that an acedemically advanced student is going to be whether they start early or late. But an average, or even slightly later than average developer might really struggle if moved ahead too soon. I do think the biggest issue with the social aspect. And social insecurity can effect school performance.

    My hubby was born in nov and missed the cut off. But he was acedemically brilliant so skipped 2nd grade. He was shy and much smaller than every one else, so also being the youngest really compounded that for him. ultimately he did "fine" but he didnt want any of his own kids starting early. We ended up homeschooling so it is a non issue (at least so far, I'm still not sure what we will do for the youngest for school. I think homeschooling could be very lonely for her there is such a big gap) and kids can move along at their own pace for acedemics, but for any extra curriculars we give the lower grade they would be in. All but one of mine have late summer/fall or winter birthday, so it would have been an issue. My 5th would have been similar to DH, she is very small for her age, but very advanced acedemically, so she might have been very bored in school held back a year.

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    Quote Originally Posted by KC's wifey View Post
    I think its important to note that this is not saying not to start any kind of learning until 7. Its saying play based learning vs. traditional academic (sitting at a desk, doing worksheets, listening to the teacher talk at the front of the room, etc.) type learning. There are so many things a child can learn when they are engaged in play. That can mean setting up invitations for play with letters/numbers/shapes/colors/patterns/textures, etc. Loose parts and open-ended play encourage learning a host of different skills, and there is opportunity for teachers and parents to count together, sort, do patterns, etc. Plus all the opportunities for invention, construction, deconstruction, learning about physics, problem solving, social skills, gross and fine motor skills, imagination and creativity, etc., etc.

    I definitely agree that children should be challenged, but I don't think that play based learning and providing challenges are mutually exclusive.
    Well said. I totally agree.

    Quote Originally Posted by runningmomofmany View Post
    i agree that an acedemically advanced student is going to be whether they start early or late. But an average, or even slightly later than average developer might really struggle if moved ahead too soon. I do think the biggest issue with the social aspect. And social insecurity can effect school performance.

    My hubby was born in nov and missed the cut off. But he was acedemically brilliant so skipped 2nd grade. He was shy and much smaller than every one else, so also being the youngest really compounded that for him. ultimately he did "fine" but he didnt want any of his own kids starting early. We ended up homeschooling so it is a non issue (at least so far, I'm still not sure what we will do for the youngest for school. I think homeschooling could be very lonely for her there is such a big gap) and kids can move along at their own pace for acedemics, but for any extra curriculars we give the lower grade they would be in. All but one of mine have late summer/fall or winter birthday, so it would have been an issue. My 5th would have been similar to DH, she is very small for her age, but very advanced acedemically, so she might have been very bored in school held back a year.
    Yes, I agree with this, too. I have a September birthday and entered school at 4. I did well in school (other than my math learning disability, and entering school later would not have affected that as kids don't grow out of learning disabilities) but I struggled socially and particularly when it came to group learning. I also did start college at 17 and moved out of the house to attend a college in another city. I was way too young to leave home and it set me up for failure. Another year might have made all the difference for me.
    Me (40) DH (47) & furbabies * m/c 7/08 4/12 11/12

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    I don't know.. I am torn on this. 7 seems kind of late but what do I know. My bday is in February so I was late to start school but I was a hard working student and probably would have done well either way. My ds is a January baby- if he wasn't I would probably hold him back but most bc he is sooo small for his age and I wouldn't want him to feel overwhelmed. My dd is only 2... But she was born in March so she will be older starting school too. What's a good preschool/daycare anyways? We live in a verrry wealthy area (like Ave house is a 1mil here) and preschools around here are so pricey but it's hard to really judge what's a good one. Should it all be play based?? Who knows. I just have no idea really

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    I turned six the November after I started kindergarten. Who knows if that made a difference? School from kindergarten through college was very easy for me (except I took three college semesters of Calculus in two high school semesters - that was tough - as was one very mathy, complicated crazy chemical instrumentation class in college). All it took for me to do quite well was show up in class and do the homework. I never studied a single day. I test extremely well. It probably would have been easy for me even if I had been among the youngest instead of the oldest kids in the grade.

    I did two years of preschool and all I remember about that was playing a lot.
    Jessica (33) and Ryan (33). Madelyn born August 5, 2009; Malachi born December 23, 2010 and Nathaniel born July 19, 2013. Lost a loved baby 02/29/12, 05/14/12 and 07/05/12 all due a serious allergic reaction to fabric softener.
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    Quote Originally Posted by JJorn View Post

    I did two years of preschool and all I remember about that was playing a lot.
    I know I wished I remembered more about the pre-K I did. I do remember playing but also learning a bit of basic spanish. Or K for that matter. My stronger memories that don't involve my sister but are school start more in first grade when I was 7 and ready to learn sitting at a desk more.

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    Quote Originally Posted by emma1978 View Post
    I don't know.. I am torn on this. 7 seems kind of late but what do I know. My bday is in February so I was late to start school but I was a hard working student and probably would have done well either way. My ds is a January baby- if he wasn't I would probably hold him back but most bc he is sooo small for his age and I wouldn't want him to feel overwhelmed. My dd is only 2... But she was born in March so she will be older starting school too. What's a good preschool/daycare anyways? We live in a verrry wealthy area (like Ave house is a 1mil here) and preschools around here are so pricey but it's hard to really judge what's a good one. Should it all be play based?? Who knows. I just have no idea really
    Learning should be play-based, yes. Activities should be set up to allow children open-ended exploration that will result in learning. And teachers should be having conversations with children that are guided by the child's interests, not just giving them directions. Of course, kids should also have exposure to small and large group reading activities, crafts, etc.
    Last edited by Gwenn; 07-22-2014 at 02:50 PM.
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