by Yovana Miramontes-Risk
It has become a big controversy that children start school too early in their lives. According to a study done by researcher David Whitebread at Cambridge University, it is very important to give children more time to develop before they begin attending school. Also, a huge influence comes from children attending play-based pre-schools.
According to this study, proof from anthropological studies of children’s play is very similar to hunter-gather societies. Another study, an evolutionary psychology study, where the play of other young mammalian species concluded that play is an adaptation in which early human social groups evolved from. This enables humans to become problem solvers and powerful learners. This trait is a great to introduce to children, to help strengthen their learning abilities early.
Neuroscientific studies have also shown that playful activity leads to brain activity growth, especially in part of the brain that is responsible for all uniquely human higher mental functions that separates us from other species. Why not increase this playful activity and let the growth continue. This way, when they are a tad older, they will be more prepared to take in information and have it set-in.
Educational research demonstrates superior academic, motivational and well-being outcomes for children who have had a play-based pre-school education. A study done on about 3,000 children across England shows that in an extended period of high quality, play-based pre-school education was extremely beneficial to children from disadvantage households. Extending the play-based preschool for a year or two would only increase the activity growth and also better prepare children for the homework and schoolwork load.
There was also a study that compared groups of children who started formal literacy lessons at age five and seven in New Zealand. Results show that early (five year olds) introduction to literacy does not improve children’s reading development and may actually be damaging for them. By the age of eleven, there weren’t any differences in the reading ability level between the two groups, though the children who started at age five developed less positive attitudes towards reading and showed poorer text comprehension than those children who had started later. Positive attitude towards reading may not sound like a huge thing, but I think it’s very important. Especially after being is school for about 17 years of my life, I know how important reading is and having a positive attitude at a young age is helpful in the long run.
In my opinion, children should start school later in their life, maybe 6 or 7. From my experience with children, they are at a constant streak of energy and this makes it extremely hard for them to concentrate. I can only imagine how difficult is can be to sit in a classroom for about six hours a day and continuously attempt to focus when the only thing on their mind is “play!” I agree with the notion that school should start at the age of seven or six, as apposed to four or five. This way, children will have a more developed brain when entering the next big step in their lives.