Waldorf educators are not alone in their call for developmentally appropriate learning in early elementary education. The month of May adds another study on the pile of research supporting the benefits to delaying overzealous academics in early childhood.
This report from New Zealand, covered by The Telegraph, says, “Pupils kept out of formal schooling until the age of seven perform just as well those subjected to normal lessons at five… In some assessments of reading skills, those with a later start actually overtook their peers by the age of 10, figures show.”
This study release comes close on the heels of recommendations by Dr Richard House, a senior lecturer at Roehampton University’s Research Centre for Therapeutic Education, to delay formal schooling for bright kids.
This article summarizes his recommendations, saying, “…gifted pupils from relatively affluent backgrounds suffered the most from being pushed ‘too far, too fast.’ 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.”
The Harvard Education Letter harps on these issues as well. The results from this study, answer these questions: “Have kids gotten smarter? Can they learn things sooner? What effect has modern culture had on child development? The surprising answers—no, no, and none.”
This prompted Jerlean E. Daniel, executive director of the National Association for the Education of Young Children, to say: “Above all, young children need time—time to manipulate objects and ideas, time to make the information their own,” says Daniel. The Gesell study, she says, “is a resource to people who want to find greater balance in kindergarten.”
Why find greater balance? Because, as the Harvard Education Letter also reports, there are serious concerns about the current state of the early education environment, including:
— A narrow range of literacy and math skills
— Eliminated recess or physical education
— Scripted curricula
This piece says these have caused, “Several prominent early childhood organizations [to issue] reports on the importance of incorporating developmentally appropriate practice into elementary school classrooms, based on what research has confirmed about early learning.”