As a passionate early years officer and a mother I find this extremely interesting and I am 100% in agreement that the starting age for our children should indeed be later than four or five years old.
I have been interested in the Upstart movement for quite some time now and have been following how the movement is gaining momentum.
My own daughter is due to start school this year and she will be five years and four months old by the time she goes in august. Whenever your child starts school it will always be an emotional time for us as parents but more so for the child themselves. I have caught myself saying ” oh you will be a big girl going to school after summer, wont that be exciting” but the reality of it is …. no it wont. Perhaps the first few days of things being new might be ok but when the realisation that she is expected to sit at a desk and “work” then i do believe there may be tears.
Safia is writing her name and enjoys markmaking, she also has a love of books which all my children have but is that enough to warrant what is being asked of our youngest learners.
The research clearly shows that children benefit greatly from play based activities and the freedom to explore. As I have said in previous blog posts children make no distinction between play and work but as adults we do, and this is wrong. When children are playing they are learning , they are building the connections in their brains and making sense of the world around them. As adults we learn better when something is engaging , interesting and ultimately fun. Why should we assume that children are different?
There is ample research available here that shows that a later start for our children would be beneficial. So why is this not been introduced?
The simplest explanation is in the history of our education system.
If we look at The primary memorandum (1965) this clearly states that the curriculum should be based upon the development of the child and play is heavily stated , particularly for children aged 5. Two years later the Plowden report reiterated the basics of the primary memorandum and yet decades later we are still discussing the benefits of play and the need for it in our children’s lives.
Education IS and WILL remain highly politically motivated.
This can be seen in documents such as developing the young workforce. Even the title of this document to me is ambiguous.
What are we trying to do to our children ? From the moment they start nursery all the way through ‘schooling’ we are shaping and moulding our children in order to boost the countries economy! Yes of course we need the children to have skills in order to develop their career options but does that really need to start ‘developing’ at age 3? I think not …
Just looking at this quote from Developing the young Workforce – Career Education standards (2015) reflects my point that education appears solely for political and economical gains.
“A focus on preparing all young people for employment should form a core element of the implementation of Curriculum for Excellence with appropriate resource dedicated to achieve this. In particular local authorities, SDS and employer representative organisations should work together to develop a more comprehensive standard for careers guidance which would reflect the involvement of employers and their role and input.” (Education Working for All,2014, p. 22)
And of course this Quote from Building the Curriculum 4
On a final note and perhaps a lighter note, My son, aged 10 came home from school this week with a leaflet developed by the National Parent Forum of Scotland entitled Career Education: a world of possibilities.
Now I am not ashamed to admit that I had a little giggle to myself , particularly due to the last sentence… ” Now I know how useful it is to be able to cut with scissors” I highly doubt that this 3 year old child who is happily cutting away at bits of paper is thinking of becoming a fashion designer.! I think perhaps the real learning going on is the development of fine motor skills rather than the development of a potential career!
And on that note and to reiterate my feelings …
Just let the children play !