“Earlier is not better. All children accomplish milestones in their own way, in their own time.” – Magda Gerber
Today it seems that doing everything earlier is not only encouraged but expected. Our high schoolers are taking AP college courses. Our middle schoolers are learning algebra, geometry and sometimes even pre-calculus. Our kindergarteners are expected to read before they go to first grade. Our preschoolers are expected to be able to sit still and in many cases are doing work sheets. My one question is very simple – Why??
I am really having a hard time with this. Jane Healy, PhD, tells us that pushing learning too early on children is not only wrong but can be damaging. “Reading problems can be created by forced early instruction” (Your Child’s Growing Mind, pg 269). Jean Piaget, a developmental psychologist, tells us in his cognitive development studies that teaching formal reading should not even begin before the age of seven. Magda Gerber, a renowned early childhood educator, tell us in her quote today that, ” Earlier is not better”. So why, after all of these experts and many,many others have told us to wait and let children develop at their own pace, are we still pushing them to do things earlier and earlier.
I don’t really know where it all started but I do know that today it is directly correlated to all of the testing that is going on. Parents want their children to score in the top percentiles, mistakenly thinking that this will somehow give them an edge later in life. School district administrators are tying children’s performance on tests directly to teachers. Teachers, who are concerned for their jobs, find themselves teaching to the test which in most cases is against everything they believe in.
I have raised three children and taught and tutored many more. Each child was unique. Each child learned in their own special way and in their own special time. The more they were pushed, the less they understood, the more confused they became and suddenly they disliked school and had no self confidence. I really don’t think that is what we want for any of our children.
There was, and still is, no one time table for all children. Some toddlers walk first, some toddlers talk first – is one “better” than the other? I read at the the age of three. One of my daughters did not read until she was almost seven. Is one of us “better” than the other? Considering that we both grew up to be teachers, when we read, really had no bearing on what we accomplished as adults.
So…listen to Magda Gerber and the whole host of experts that have been saying for years that, “Earlier is not better”. Let your child unwrap their gifts in their own time and only then will you see them really blossom!
Have some fun today!