Better to Delay School Entry

Thumbnail image for our new play loft.JPGSchool should be delayed until age six because an over-emphasis on the three-Rs at an early age can cause significant long-term damage to bright children, according to Dr. Richard House, a senior lecturer at Roehampton University’s Research Centre for Therapeutic Education in England. He quoted a major US study – carried out over eight decades – that showed children’s “run-away intellect” actually benefited from being slowed down in the early years, allowing them to develop naturally. Pupils should not be subjected to full classroom tuition until the age of six to off-set the effects of premature “adultification,” and gifted pupils from relatively affluent backgrounds suffered the most from being pushed “too far, too fast” it was claimed.

House claimed the case for change was supported by a longitudinal study of gifted children who started in school in the US in the 1920s. Prof Howard Friedman, a psychologist at the University of California, analysed their progress over 80 years and found that “early school entry was associated with less educational attainment, worse midlife adjustment and, most importantly, increased mortality risk”.

House went on to develop the importance of play-based early learning through age six, which is supported by Waldorf education (the picture, above, is of the new play loft from the LifeWays Childcare Society in Vancouver). Steiner was very clear about the later health problems that can be associated with early academics and “adultification”–it’s interesting to see that supported by more mainstream work. Here is a link to the article.

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