Join the Meeting Place for Moms!
Talk to other moms, share advice, and have fun!

(minimum 6 characters)

Homeschooling Moms Homeschooling Moms

age does matter (article)

Posted by on Nov. 23, 2013 at 12:16 PM
  • 26 Replies
1 mom liked this
http://notjustcute.com/2010/11/01/age-does-matter/

Age Does Matter…

I’ve been back in the public schools lately, as my oldest son is now a kindergartener. It struck me right away that what I was doing with first graders just seven years ago is now considered kindergarten territory. As was mentioned in the article I linked to previously by Alicia Bayer, “In America, we currently have this idea that our children are struggling academically so the answer lies in pushing them more and more, at earlier and earlier ages… If our children are struggling academically, it does not make sense to make them do more of the same things that are failing them and from a younger age.”

The Gesell Institute of Human Development recently held a press conference to discuss a study they conducted to look at this shift in early education expectations. Noting that developmental norms established through research in the 1940′s by the institute’s namesake and child development pioneer, Dr. Arnold Gesell, strongly conflict with expectations now presented to the average kindergartener, the institute decided to examine whether or not the development of the average child has actually sped up. After a three-year study involving about 1300 3-6 year olds from 53 schools in 23 states from all points on the demographic spectrum the results show that even after 70 years, what is developmentally appropriate for a child remains the same.

Gesell Institute’s Executive Director, Dr. Marcy Guddemi explained during her formal announcement of this study, that “Children have sets of abilities that are definitively bound by their developmental level. These developmental abilities of a child are directly related to their success at processing the information given to them and to perform the tasks asked of them.” This means that regardless of state standards and curriculum requirements, if a child has not had adequate time and experience to develop the requisite abilities, her chances for success are slim. Unfortunately while the pace of developmental growth has not changed, what is expected of these children certainly has. The problem is, legislation, school policies, and fancy textbooks won’t make children any more developmentally ready for it.

As Dr. David Daniel, psychology professor at James Madison University and managing editor of the journal Mind, Brain, and Education, stated in the Harvard Education Letter, “The four-year-old has a four-year-old brain and a six-year-old has a six-year-old brain. There are certain things connecting in a six-year-old brain that are still being worked on in the four-year-old brain.” When asked about the more rigorous coursework being presented to children at younger and younger ages he replies, “They can be teaching it, but the question is: Is the child learning it?”

In the same article, Dr. Guddemi points out that children may actually appear to learn some of these tasks. But points out that this “learning” is actually “training”. Because they are not developmentally ready, the children haven’t built the appropriate connections for meaningful knowledge. Referring to these as “splinter skills” she says, “You can train them, but the knowledge and understanding—the true learning—has not happened. Our country has this hang up that if the child can perform, that they know.”

It’s similar to forcing a bulb to bloom indoors. Natural laws prevent flowers from blooming in the winter, but if we really want to, there are ways we can urge a bulb and create conditions that will allow it to bloom indoors in the middle of December. If we take that bulb back to its natural setting however, it would quickly die in the frosty air. Just because we can get it to bloom does not change its natural timetable.

Likewise, just because we can get children to perform tasks at earlier ages, does not mean they have the natural capacity to maintain those skills and convert them to real knowledge in a natural setting. Additionally, and perhaps more tragically, those children who cannot be “trained” ahead of their natural schedule suffer the consequences, being labeled as “difficult” or “slow”. By the time they are naturally ready to develop skills on an appropriate developmental schedule, they have already been left behind. It seems in an effort to create more success we have only created more unnecessary failures.

Dr. Guddemi pointed out during the press conference that the current trend towards a “push-down” curriculum is not creating better test scores, rather according to recent studies it is causing children to have negative attitudes about school and to view themselves as “failures” as early as PreK. Additionally, expulsions for preschoolers have increased to a rate 4 times that of students in the K-12 grades. One has to wonder if the problem truly stems from child behavior, or if it is the environment and expectations (created by adults) that are truly inappropriate.

Test scores and expulsion rates are not the only indicators that this high-pressure system is not serving our children well. Recent reports also show that social and problem solving skills, critical to success in school as well as in the job market are not being fully developed. Skills like persistence, creativity, cooperation, and communication are being left by the wayside in an effort to produce higher test scores and reach benchmarks earlier. As Dr. Guddemi stated in the New Haven Register, “When policy-makers and school leaders don’t have access to the latest research about how children learn they can make mistakes that actually keep down the very test scores they are trying to enhance.”

Not to be misunderstood, The Gesell Institute is not against raising test scores. They simply believe that there is a right way to do it. That is, by working with the child’s natural developmental process rather than against it. The National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP) agrees with the Gesell Institute and has recently proposed that elementary principals be required to obtain professional development in the areas of child development and early learning. This is something that many of us would consider a logical requirement for anyone directing, planning, or supervising the education of young children.

The Gesell Institute recommends early childhood programs for children age 3 through grade 3 that emphasize experiences and exploration. Both of which quickly disappear from a worksheet-based classroom. The institute also emphasizes that these programs need to teach children to “negotiate and problem solve with peers, explore materials in creative ways, and engage in the work of making sense of their world alongside teachers who are experienced, patient and creative role models. Unfortunately, in an effort to close achievement gaps, both schools and parents endorse the “earlier is better myth,” believing that by “learning” academic skills earlier, developmental skills will follow. Gesell’s data proves the opposite – that developmental abilities must emerge before an academic curriculum has meaning for the child and that it stimulates a corresponding motivation to learn.”

In our nation’s effort to give our children more, we are essentially robbing them of what is most rightfully theirs: their childhood. What we know to be good and necessary for proper growth and development in the early childhood years is, in too many situations, being grossly ignored and dismissed. Unfortunately, this philosophy that earlier is better and that play and exploration is frivolous is actually edging out the development of necessary skills in exchange for an imitation of education. We as child advocates — parents and teachers — have to do our part to find that balance again.

Dr. Marcy Guddemi, Gesell Institute’s Executive Director would love to answer your questions about this study and the topic of developmentally appropriate practice. Comment here with your questions, and I will use those in an interview with Dr. Guddemi to be posted next week. (Please comment by Friday to ensure your question is considered.) What do you find most difficult about implementing developmentally appropriate practice? What challenges do you face in encouraging others to implement DAP? What aspects of the study left you scratching your head? Please further this discussion with your comments and questions!

You can also read more about Gesell’s study here:

Kid’s Haven’t Changed, Kindergarten Has– Harvard Education Letter

The Education of Educators – New Haven Register

Does Teaching Kids Earlier and Earlier Really Work? – New Haven Advocate

Study: Children Need Time to Develop - Teacher Magazine

Top photo by Aron Kremer.

Center photo by Anissa Thompson.
by on Nov. 23, 2013 at 12:16 PM
Add your quick reply below:
You must be a member to reply to this post.
Replies (1-10):
paganbaby
by Silver Member on Nov. 23, 2013 at 12:24 PM
2 moms liked this

I've been saying this for some time. We didn't do any reading in kindergarten, had plenty of play time and we had nap time too. Reading didn't begin until 1st grade. By the time my oldest was in kinder, I was shocked by how much their work load was. DD struggled all through school as did her brother. My only regret is that I didn't take them out earlier.

My youngest dd on the other hand, thrives in school. Makes me wonder how ahead she would actually be if schools taught at age appropriate levels.

bluerooffarm
by Gold Member on Nov. 23, 2013 at 12:47 PM
4 moms liked this

IMO age shouldn't matter at all.  Readiness should matter.  My 4yo is ready for more than learning his colors and shapes.  He wants to learn to read and he wants to "play math" like his big brothers.  But my 6yo needed time before he was ready to read.  

I would like to see our school system set up in a way that handles that readiness issue without shame.  Right now if a child is not ready, they get held back (shamed).  A child who is ready before their "time" gets stuck with agemates who are not ready (boredom).  IMO we need to stop dividing our kids by age, but by readiness in each of the core subjects.

kirbymom
by Sonja on Nov. 23, 2013 at 12:50 PM
1 mom liked this
Okay. A powerfully long strike. And, while I do agree with a good portion of what is being said, I will never get on board that elementary principles should get a degree in child developmental skills and or abilities.
That would destroy the role and importance of homeschooling exponentially.
I am not degree'd on Any level to raise and or educate my children. Nor do I NEED a degree for that.
And while I disagree with the majority of anything the ps does, I would not be so Apr to have them "QUALIFIED" to help facilitate a child's learning and furthering of their education.
Precious333
by Silver Member on Nov. 23, 2013 at 1:03 PM
I was shocked to see my first grader go from not reading to reading chapter books, and thr best part is he enjoys it!


Quoting paganbaby:

I've been saying this for some time. We didn't do any reading in kindergarten, had plenty of play time and we had nap time too. Reading didn't begin until 1st grade. By the time my oldest was in kinder, I was shocked by how much their work load was. DD struggled all through school as did her brother. My only regret is that I didn't take them out earlier.

My youngest dd on the other hand, thrives in school. Makes me wonder how ahead she would actually be if schools taught at age appropriate levels.


Precious333
by Silver Member on Nov. 23, 2013 at 1:04 PM
Absolutelu agree!!!


Quoting kirbymom:

Okay. A powerfully long strike. And, while I do agree with a good portion of what is being said, I will never get on board that elementary principles should get a degree in child developmental skills and or abilities.

That would destroy the role and importance of homeschooling exponentially.

I am not degree'd on Any level to raise and or educate my children. Nor do I NEED a degree for that.

Precious333
by Silver Member on Nov. 23, 2013 at 1:06 PM
I see my kids different personalities, and that os so true! My son who just turned 3 o can.see learning to read very early, and my 5 year old isnt there yet, he just thinks differently :)


Quoting bluerooffarm:

IMO age shouldn't matter at all.  Readiness should matter.  My 4yo is ready for more than learning his colors and shapes.  He wants to learn to read and he wants to "play math" like his big brothers.  But my 6yo needed time before he was ready to read.  

I would like to see our school system set up in a way that handles that readiness issue without shame.  Right now if a child is not ready, they get held back (shamed).  A child who is ready before their "time" gets stuck with agemates who are not ready (boredom).  IMO we need to stop dividing our kids by age, but by readiness in each of the core subjects.


bluerooffarm
by Gold Member on Nov. 23, 2013 at 1:13 PM
1 mom liked this

Yes!!  And in PS here in America they would both be shamed a bit.  One would be stuck where he is when he's ready to move on while the other would be held back.  We should be able to work with their personalities without them feeling frustrated or shamed.

Quoting Precious333:

I see my kids different personalities, and that os so true! My son who just turned 3 o can.see learning to read very early, and my 5 year old isnt there yet, he just thinks differently :)


Quoting bluerooffarm:

IMO age shouldn't matter at all.  Readiness should matter.  My 4yo is ready for more than learning his colors and shapes.  He wants to learn to read and he wants to "play math" like his big brothers.  But my 6yo needed time before he was ready to read.  

I would like to see our school system set up in a way that handles that readiness issue without shame.  Right now if a child is not ready, they get held back (shamed).  A child who is ready before their "time" gets stuck with agemates who are not ready (boredom).  IMO we need to stop dividing our kids by age, but by readiness in each of the core subjects.



Precious333
by Silver Member on Nov. 23, 2013 at 1:16 PM
They want it easy. Cookir cutter, and people arent like that!


Quoting bluerooffarm:

Yes!!  And in PS here in America they would both be shamed a bit.  One would be stuck where he is when he's ready to move on while the other would be held back.  We should be able to work with their personalities without them feeling frustrated or shamed.

Quoting Precious333:

I see my kids different personalities, and that os so true! My son who just turned 3 o can.see learning to read very early, and my 5 year old isnt there yet, he just thinks differently :)





Quoting bluerooffarm:

IMO age shouldn't matter at all.  Readiness should matter.  My 4yo is ready for more than learning his colors and shapes.  He wants to learn to read and he wants to "play math" like his big brothers.  But my 6yo needed time before he was ready to read.  

I would like to see our school system set up in a way that handles that readiness issue without shame.  Right now if a child is not ready, they get held back (shamed).  A child who is ready before their "time" gets stuck with agemates who are not ready (boredom).  IMO we need to stop dividing our kids by age, but by readiness in each of the core subjects.





bluerooffarm
by Gold Member on Nov. 23, 2013 at 1:18 PM

Agreed!

Quoting Precious333:

They want it easy. Cookir cutter, and people arent like that!


Quoting bluerooffarm:

Yes!!  And in PS here in America they would both be shamed a bit.  One would be stuck where he is when he's ready to move on while the other would be held back.  We should be able to work with their personalities without them feeling frustrated or shamed.

Quoting Precious333:

I see my kids different personalities, and that os so true! My son who just turned 3 o can.see learning to read very early, and my 5 year old isnt there yet, he just thinks differently :)





Quoting bluerooffarm:

IMO age shouldn't matter at all.  Readiness should matter.  My 4yo is ready for more than learning his colors and shapes.  He wants to learn to read and he wants to "play math" like his big brothers.  But my 6yo needed time before he was ready to read.  

I would like to see our school system set up in a way that handles that readiness issue without shame.  Right now if a child is not ready, they get held back (shamed).  A child who is ready before their "time" gets stuck with agemates who are not ready (boredom).  IMO we need to stop dividing our kids by age, but by readiness in each of the core subjects.






usmom3
by BJ on Nov. 23, 2013 at 1:32 PM
1 mom liked this

 I agree, being ready is so important!

Quoting bluerooffarm:

IMO age shouldn't matter at all.  Readiness should matter.  My 4yo is ready for more than learning his colors and shapes.  He wants to learn to read and he wants to "play math" like his big brothers.  But my 6yo needed time before he was ready to read.  

I would like to see our school system set up in a way that handles that readiness issue without shame.  Right now if a child is not ready, they get held back (shamed).  A child who is ready before their "time" gets stuck with agemates who are not ready (boredom).  IMO we need to stop dividing our kids by age, but by readiness in each of the core subjects.

 

Add your quick reply below:
You must be a member to reply to this post.
Join the Meeting Place for Moms!
Talk to other moms, share advice, and have fun!

(minimum 6 characters)