Thursday, June 13, 2013

Permanent Home Pre-Schooler?

We're into June and Adrian is nearly three and a half years old. Most of his peers have started Cycle 1. By 'peers', I mean the toddlers that he went to the once a week,mother and child,  Montessori environment with. Cycle one is the first cycle at Aaron's school and its classes are for the 3-6 year olds. 

We chose not to start this year and have been targeting the beginning of next year. Thank goodness for that decision! As he grows older, I am often asked why he isn't in the school yet and very often, I find the other parent doesn't quite understand why I would hold my child back this way. They think I can't let go of him. (Some shake their heads and wag their fingers at me.)Whereas, I think I can give him a much richer and definitely more loving environment for the stage that he is at now, than the classroom can. Adrian is thriving at home. He doesn't miss out socially because he plays with the same kids that he would have been in class with, every day when we go pick Aaron up. And, we do get around to many similar activities as his class would have offered. 

He is cheeky but so funny to be around once I'm giving him 100% of my attention. Its always a worry if I am trying to get other things done and often, frustrating because he's making a mess at one end of the house while I'm cleaning up the other. He is playful but is also very willing to learn new things - he sees it as play.  

Lately, I've been wondering if I should start him when he turns 4. Why not when he is 4.5 years old? Thats when Aaron started and I thought that instead of a sudden burst in knowledge from being in an 'educational' environment, there might have even been a little bit of a slowdown in knowledge 'uptake' from the distraction of it all.

Why not skip the whole pre-school and kindergarten phase and just start in primary school? After all, we're not talking about a neglected child here. But no, I won't go as far as that. And its not because I think he needs to learn to socialize either. Its more for learning how to be self regulated and also carry out some independent work in an environment away from me.

So, I'd better take full advantage of the next 6-12 months because after that, he'll be off on the long (and increasingly questionable) road of 'formal education'.

p.s. I recently watched this very interesting talk by Sugata Mitra, an education researcher, about child driven education.


Mike said...

Good TED talk. I think though the era of knowing can be divided into two parts. The era of controlled knowing and the era of everyone knowing. The last is very recent.

John Hill said...

Follow your instincts. As mother, you have more at stake when it comes to the success of your own children than a host of well-meaning, bureaucratic educators.

Amanda said...

Mike - You make a good point too.

John - Thats what I try to tell myself, but I can't help questioning myself as well...

NomadicExpat said...

I finally got to listen to the Sugata Mitra talk and am very alarmed by what he had to say and I also questioned the validity of his research.

The first thing that came to mind was that in a remote village in India, where's the electricity coming from to power those computers.

Also, what kind of learning is he referring to? Having kids in some remote village repeat what the gingerbread man had to say delivered by some granny in UK is low level learning. It's basically memory work.

The kind of learning that we strive for is when students can start producing new knowledge and in order for them to do so, they require what Benjamin Bloom, an educational psychologist refers to as higher order thinking skills. The kind of education that Mitra seemed to go on and on about doesnt promote that kind of thinking.

And when he talked about having someone to guide the kids to help them move from 30 to 50 points score, that's not a new approach in teaching, otherwise known as social constructivist theories in teaching and learning where learning occurs in a social environment, at times aided by a more knowledgeable other -- Vygotsky theories.

I thought I was being too cynical about what he had to say (which I think is quite a bit of BS really) and found this:

Lastly, at the end of the day, we have to ask ourselves what is education and what it means to be an educated person. I'm not sure if Mitra even got close to answering that question at all.