Better Late than Early

Delayed Academics: Key to Preventing Learning Problems

Someone sent me a copy of an article entitled Better Late than Early today. Parents hear from our president that we should be handing over our children at younger ages and for more of the year — for the purpose of “academic excellence.” What does the research say?

Carolyn Forte, in the article mentioned above, says:

Dr. and Mrs. Moore’s first book, School Can Wait and its twin for laymen, Better Late Than Early, introduced me to the facts about education and child development. The Moores collected early childhood research from medicine, ophthalmology, neurology, and psychology and came to the inescapable conclusion that for most children, the optimum age to begin formal academics is between the ages of eight and twelve! For those of us who are steeped in the culture of early academics, this is a strange pill to swallow. But the Moores didn’t stop with mere laboratory research; they studied homeschool families in the 70’s and 80’s to see what happened when children were free to learn at a more natural pace. The result was several more books, culminating with The Successful Family Homeschool Handbook. This volume elaborates on “The Moore Formula” which Dr. and Mrs. Moore developed over the years as they combined research with practical application.

The “Moore Formula” includes three elements in approximately equal portions: study, work and service. They do not recommend formal academic studies before age 8 and in some cases, as late as 12. (My younger daughter fell into this older category.) This does not mean that the child does not learn anything until age 8+. Children are learning voraciously from birth and only the roadblock of clumsy “schooling” can retard or stop a child’s otherwise insatiable thirst for knowledge. Books are useful and important tools, but for a young child, the world is filled with much better learning opportunities than can be found on the printed page alone. When a child is allowed to explore and question and wonder, whole worlds of interest can open that might never be discovered otherwise. In this homeschooling style, a child might learn to read at five, at seven or at twelve, depending on the child.

This more relaxed early learning/teaching style will incorporate important developmental areas often neglected or ignored by formal curricula: listening, hand-eye coordination, large motor skills, spatial relationships, personal relationships, knowledge about the physical environment, memory development, imagination, logic and many more. Because of the overwhelming presence of electronic media in our lives, children are often have difficulty using their own imagination or even listening to a story without pictures. They are so bombarded with constant sound from radio, TV, and electronic games that they can hardly think for themselves. Giving children time in the early years (hopefully with a minimum of TV, etc.) to develop physically, neurologically and emotionally allows them to move into formal academics with a maximum of preparedness and energy.”

The early years with my boys have been precious, delightful times of learning.  We’ve grown into more formal, rigorous work each year, and they’ve adapted well.  I do miss those early times that were centered around playing, cuddling and delight-directed learning!  I’m so glad we were directed to books like those by the Moores, Educating the Wholehearted Child, For the Children’s Sake, I Saw the Angel in the Marble and Things We Wished We’d Known right at the beginning of our homeschooling journey.  These books convinced us to truly slow down with our young ones; we have been richly blessed by doing so.


4 thoughts on “Better Late than Early

  1. Thanks for stopping by my blog at HomeschoolBlogger! Your Tea Party experience sounds WONDERFUL! Our Tea Party was inspiring, and HUGE, but no singing. That would have been nice, actually! Blessings to you! Kim

  2. Hello – I found you thru a linkback on my blog. 🙂 I just wanted to say that the Moore’s approach to education (and all of their books, really) is what made me feel qualified to be a mother. I love the delayed approach, and even though my husband and I are considering homeschooling all the way through our children’s education, it was an absolute wake up call for me, who was head over heels for EARLY Child Development (even got a degree in it!). It’s such a novel concept these days to wait until your CHILDREN are ready to learn… not just Mama’s ready for some time to herself! 😉

  3. I am sorry to interject ugliness in the beauty of parents lovingly bringing up and educating their children. I just felt like a target had been painted on the backs of parents who choose NOT to send their children to “Early Childhood Education.”

    There is such a blunt contrast between the gentle art of child rearing and education that is geared towards serving the state.

    I have been a home schooling mother since 1984. There are people who are striving for mandatory government run early childhood education, among other things, and this viewpoint is well represented in this current administration. Parents in China love their children too, yet they are generally limited to one child, and in urban areas have their children housed in government run nurseries and work six days a week and have their children with them one day a week. Of course that couldn’t happen here . . .

    Well, I just heard on the news that President Obama is proposing a budget freeze for . . . yada yada yada except . . . . about everything there is . . . AND SPECIFICALLY not: “Early Childhood Education.”

    This was stated by our President with a cheery upbeat tone, like “Nobody can object to “Early Childhood Education.” So far, everything that has been addressed seems to me to be about expanding the reach and power of government.

    With the new Senator Brown to be seated, and the loss of the super majority in the US Senate, I think that there may be a mad dash to ratify the “United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child” And other actions that would either shrink our liberty as parents or tax us to support the nanny state.

    Our liberty is under assault. Please check out about the movement to preserve our parental rights.

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