By: Krystle Crossman
It is no secret that pushing children into academics before they are ready is detrimental to their future academic success. Many have brought up the question as to whether preschools should be more social and play-oriented as opposed to academic because children that young are not ready to sit down and listen to lectures. Clearinghouse on Early Education and Parenting at the University of Illinois co-director Lilian Katz states that children shouldn’t be entering preschool thinking that they should already know how to do things. Preschool should be a place for exploration and discovery.
Katz states that when children go into a preschool setting the question, “What do you know?” should not be asked. She says that this implies to the child that they are already supposed to know how to do something and if they don’t it could make them feel inadequate even at their young age. They should be asked about what they would like to learn. This way they have the freedom to explore and gain knowledge on things at their own pace which can help to get them on track for academic success down the road. This is not to say that they shouldn’t be learning basic things like colors, numbers, letters, and sounds, but they should be given more creative ways to learn these things as opposed to lectures.
One of the growing problems with academics in this country is that we have so many required tests that need to be taken at early ages that parents feel that their children need to begin learning immediately. What many don’t realize is that it not only takes away from their child’s very important play and exploration time but can lead to social issues down the road. Young children learn much better when they are engaged and active with the subjects that they are learning. If you place a child at a table with other children to play a game that relies on them learning about different colors they will have more fun and will retain more information than a child sitting at a desk forced to use flashcards or rote memorization. Many schools are now adopting play-based programs that teach children important lessons but are interactive and engaging. They are also using methods that allow the child to choose what they would like to explore and discover on their own.