Parenting education causes me to deal with a variety of issues. One issue I have been dealing with lately is a Mom who believes children should be taught to read as early as possible. It is her belief academics is most important in children learning. To say the least we had a very robust conversation neither of us changed one another's mind, however, I believe strong points were made on both sides. It got me to thinking about what we Americans think of as success. Let me say our conversation sparked my thoughts and in no way reflects what I believe about this lady or her parenting. This is not a judgement but a reflection of what this conversation led me to think about.
We Americans think success is reflected more in academic and professional success than in people who have emotional and personal development. Success is seen in what we do, own, or can acquire. Rather than what we believe, how we treat others or the value we bring to the lives of others. At this time we can see clearly the results of this kind of thinking. The riots in Baltimore is a great example. Many think the destruction is justified because of the latent anger. Since, when is anger a justification for destroying someone else's life. The belief they just destroyed buildings. Yet, those buildings housed businesses. The owners may not be able to rebuild, which means anyone working there is either temporarily or permeanantly out of a job. This justification is based on excusing a lack of moral development.
In Early Childhood Education (ECE) the focus is not on academics. It is based on developing the whole child but, most especially social/emotional development. Why? Because if children are not at home with their parents it is the job of the teacher to give the children what they will need to succeed in the classroom in Elementary School but also the foundation of living. So, many who mistake the lack of academics in preschool are missing the real purpose of early childhood entirely.
The main purpose of Early Education is to help children build a foundation on which to build the same kind of foundation they would have if they were home with their mothers. In early childhood, they learn to roll over, walk, talk, recognize themselves as both an individual and part of a group. How to recognize others exist and how to engage with them, how to gradually improve attention span, to figure out, what happens when someone leaves and comes back, how to think, explore the world , and myriad of other things. There is a reason these things are important to learn these things in young childhood. Honestly, it is because this is the time children are young, eager to please adults and are the most malleable. If children are at home with their parents it is possible with strong parental oversight for children to master these things quickly. But, the truth is these thing are generally learned gradually during the first five years. Pushing children into academics is what I believe is ultimately the problem with most young children their foundations are wonky.
Their attention spans are not really developed as appears they have learned to be quiet but tune out. Although, they learn their letters, colors, and numbers they are bullies. Even as they excellent in many areas they can be lonely, sad, and disconnected because they never really learned how to make a true friend. These are the purposes of ECE.
What happened in Baltimore and all over the country when we look at elementary school issues is a decided lack of foundational development. In a class of twenty it only takes one or two children with a wonky foundation to throw off the classroom learning. If however, a whole class of children have a well-balanced foundation learning becomes more fun because every child is truly engaged.
I would like every parent to consider the purpose of Early Childhood Education and ensuring their child gets a solid foundation and is ready to learn on the Elemantary level.