01 September 2008

UK "Under Five Learning Goals"

Coming to a nursery near you soon, if the British are implementing it. Children being watched with state money will be expected to count to ten, write their names and short sentences on their fifth birthday. It won't add any work for the childcare providers, though, don't worry. It's just an extra goal that they're going to just plunk in there and it will magically get done.


I'm NOT writing this to be critical of those parents who find themselves needing to use state-funded childcare or those who truly believe that having their children interact with other students on a part-time basis is beneficial for their social development. But can we agree that children seem to be perceived as "left behind" at earlier and earlier ages?

Just for a moment, as an aside, let me tell you a little bit about Emperor. I'm not trying to be scientific, or brag, or anything like that. I just want to tell you the story of one little boy. Emperor had delayed speech and got help from First Steps. Not nearly so bad-off as baby J, but he had delays that the state saw fit to fund ABA and speech therapies every week. Then he went to a "special needs" preschool. He missed the kindergarten cutoff by one week and I was terribly sad for him. But instead, he decided he'd like to learn to read at home. By the end of his final preschool year, he was adding multidigit numbers such as 129+154. Yup, with borrowing and carrying. Now he is learning to do multiplication with several numbers on the top and bottom and is in the middle of the public school's third grade curriculum.

Technically, that means he has jumped from being a special-needs child to being two and a half years "ahead." But he's the same child. What a shame if we had given him a special "learning disabled" label in preschool and limited what we thought he were capable of! He's just fine, thank you.

I don't want to brush aside those parents who have genuine concerns with their child and his development. We sure have some with baby J. But I do want to say that this pushing to fulfill goals at earlier and earlier ages when the child is not quite ready may be very detrimental in the long haul. For whatever reason, in Emperor's case, he was "behind" for quite some time but now seems "ahead." Perhaps later he will only be "on schedule." That's ok, too.

Maybe parents and educators just worry too much unnecessarily.

1 comment:

  1. I was way, way behind in reading. I struggled with reading even in high school, and somehow made it through college... with honors. Just agreeing with you. Absolutely. Relax and help kids go at their pace.



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