5 reasons not to send your preschooler to school
If you are like me, by the time your little one is walking and talking, you have been pressured to start sending them to daycare or kindy, and face the inevitable questions about 'when are you going to send them to school?' and 'which school will you send them to for prep?'. However, if you are not ready yet (or ever!), or your little one is not ready, here are 5 reasons why you shouldn't send your preschooler to school yet (or ever!).
1. The country with the 'best education standards in the world' does not send its children to school until 7 years old.
After significant education reform in Finland, children started going to school later, working for less hours, taking no tests at all for the first 6 years of their schooling, playing in recess for twice as long, and saw their rates of educational success sky-rocket! Emerging evidence from many countries internationally points to more time at home, less time in the classroom, shorter school days, and delayed school starting age, as leading to increased health, happiness and better educational outcomes for children.
2. You will never get a one-on-one ratio of student to teacher in school
There is nothing like homeschooling or unschooling a family of 3 or 4 children to make you realise that one teacher can never adequately educate a classroom of 30 students! (not even you - and I am looking at you, supermum! It is a hard, hard job!). It is hard some days to be happy that one out of a family of 2 or 3 children has learned what you hoped that they would! Even with a higher educational resource budget, better books or fancy playgrounds, at school there is just not enough time in the day for one person to give individualised attention to each child when there are up to 30 children in each class. Studies show that the average teacher in the average classroom spends 45 mins per week with each student individually - just under 10 minutes a day. Even if you have a big family at home, you are much more likely to be able to get in more than 10 minutes a day with each child - and current studies show that mothers spend over 8 hours per day with their 4 - 5 year olds, on educational activities and other play! which means they have the chance to learn faster and spend the rest of their time doing things that they (and you) enjoy.
3. Teachers believe that starting school at prep age is too young
A recent study indicated that most teachers feel that the current school starting age is too young. With 93% of the teachers stating that the school day was too long, and exhausting for children, and 70% of teachers saying that starting school at 4 years old was too young. A senior teacher in Leichester stated that "Children start school at the age of seven and are ready to learn, their fine motor skills have developed and children are mature enough to understand the importance of learning" therefore school should be delayed until after 7 years of age, which is consistent with the reforms undertaken in Finland.
4. Most other countries don't send their children to school as young as we do in Australia
Children in Australia start school up to 3 or 4 years earlier than in other countries! A Cambridge University expert in child development states that "The empirical evidence is that children who have a longer period of play-based early childhood education, that goes on to age six or seven, finish up with a whole range of clear advantages in the long term... academically they do better and they experience more emotional wellbeing". Research indicates that delaying school starting age also reduced hyperactivity in children at school, while other research in to brain development, showed conclusively that more play, for longer periods, at an earlier age, led to children becoming 'powerful learners' and 'problem solvers' which researchers recommending delayed entry in to schooling until at least 7 years old.
5.Mothers and fathers are the very best teachers of socialisation and contributors to emotional wellbeing
Research indicates that parents are the major contributors to the positive socialisation of their children; from teaching them basic skills for survival, to showing them love and compassion, enculturating them in to the society in which they are born in to (teaching them social rules and etiquette) to passing on positive personality attributes and giving their children a sense of who they are in the world. In addition, being physically and emotionally available to your child, creates an environment for positive and happy emotional development in young children that can last their lifetime, and there is more time for bonding and to be emotionally available to your child if school entry is delayed temporarily or permanently.
So if you have been sitting on the fence, unsure about whether you are doing the right thing in keeping your prep or early primary school aged child at home a little longer, then the evidence is clear - parents can be the very best teachers for their children in the early primary years (and beyond... but more on that later!).
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