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.