Most preschools in Malaysia begin accepting children aged 2 and a half. Some of which are already offering academic-oriented curriculum; they teach academic skills to little children. Some of the preschools are even already testing them on such skills. As a result, when these young children didn’t secure good marks, failing to meet their teachers’ or their parents’ academic expectation; they feel depressed.
Malaysian parents, (myself included) are a big believer of “the earlier is better.” So we enrol our child into a preschool early, expecting teachers to teach our little kids to read early, hoping that our child will be better readers in the long run.
Unfortunately, there is not a single scientific evidence that supports such a notion. The “earlier is better” notion may or may not work in other aspects of our lives, it certainly wasn’t meant to be used to conceptualise early childhood education.
“What you’re much less likely to hear is the truth about what actually happens to your kids if prodded to complete tasks before they’re developmentally ready. As noted early childhood expert Jane Healy once told me, “When you start something before the brain is ready, you’ve got trouble.” Among the possibilities for trouble are enormous stress and even depression. Today, depression among children is at an all-time high” – Rae Pica, an education consultant specialising in the education of the whole child, children’s physical activity, and the mind/body connection since 1980.
When children who aren’t cognitively, emotionally, and physically ready undergo such forced educational experience; one that’s typically not in tune with their learning needs, it can result in them feeling inadequate, anxious and confused.
Each child’s trajectory is uniquely different. Each individual child develops at different rates. Children learn best when they are engaged in such activities that are geared towards their developmental levels, prior experiences and current needs. If parents still insisted on enrolling their child into a preschool early, choose one that perhaps offers play-based curriculum.
Studies continue to reveal that children placed in a play-based preschool are more likely to perform significantly better than those children from direct-instruction preschool. In other words, studies continue to prove that children who learned mostly through play in their early, formative years made significantly greater gains academically, socially and emotionally as compared to students in classes with a more academic focus.
“Childhood is not a dress rehearsal for adulthood, nor is it a race. It is a separate, unique, and very special phase of life. And I’m afraid that we’re essentially wiping it out of existence due to a misguided belief that earlier is better.”- Rae Pica.