In England, kids start pre-kindergarten at age four, but a new study from Cambridge is suggesting putting it off until six.
The study itself took six years to complete, with 14 authors, 66 research consultants, 28 research surveys, over 1,052 “written submissions,” and 250 focus groups. The result is a report that’s 600 pages long. The conclusion: Kids are not allowed to be kids. They don’t have enough time to play, and preparing for standardized tests puts them under unwarranted stress.
The survey also suggests getting rid of testing for children between the ages 7 through 11. Finally, the study recommends focusing on improving basic skills — namely literacy and numeracy — shifting away from more specific subjects like history and geography while adding more emphasis on history and the arts.
Clearly, a lot of effort has been put into the study, but many parents are taking issue with the suggestion.
Barbara Ellen, columnist for The Guardian, suggests that the study doesn’t take into account working parents. With parents juggling more than ever — especially the many families that must have both parents working — pushing Pre-K off another year or two would be harmful to the middle and lower class.
“Most British parents deeply love their children, but that doesn’t mean we can’t be delighted when they’re ready for school,” Ellen writes. “Could it be that this is simply the last taboo – parents admitting that, among other important things, they view school as a reliable form of childcare?”
While the study took place in the U.K., the U.S. struggles with the same issues that Ellen highlights. Though Pre-K often starts at five in the U.S., delaying our children’s entrance to the school system by even by a year could be tough on working families.
Delia Lloyd has spent time with the public school systems in America and Britain. In a recent article for Politics Daily, she explains the diverging ideas in how Pre-K education are developing. She writes, “As an American, I’ve always been struck by how rapidly children are forced to grow up in the U.K… The expectations facing kids seemed quite high — not just academically, but in terms of discipline, play and what kids were supposed to get out of extra-curricular activities.”
It’s clear that how we view our view on education — both here and across the pond — is rapidly developing growing up, maybe even faster than kids for a change.
When should kids start pre-kindergarten? Discuss!