Linda & Richard Eyre: What should preschoolers learn before going to kindergarten

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Richard and Linda Eyre found that when that teaching preschool-age children awareness and appreciation and character qualities and joys that it will prepare them socially and emotionally for school.

It’s been a lot of years ago, but we remember it well — sitting in our living room in McLean, Virginia, talking with a group of friends about the preschool-aged kids we all had at the time, and about what kind of preschool we should enroll them in.

The Washington, D.C, area was a hotbed for early academics, and we had all received ads and circulars and fliers touting various preschools — all of them promising to teach our 3- and 4-year-olds to read, or to do math, or to develop good study habits — all based on the assumption that the best thing parents could do for these little kids was to give them an academic head start, to make sure they were the smartest kids in their kindergarten class when they started school in a couple of years.

I remember one particular advertisement that came in our mail that started, “Want to get your child into Harvard? Better get on our waiting list now!” It was an ad for a preschool that apparently had managed to get address lists from the maternity ward of the local hospital. Our baby was 3 weeks old when the ad showed up in our mailbox. So, before they turn a month old, start preparing them for college, right?

Well, we weren’t so sure. We weren’t sure it was wise to push kids too hard too soon. We weren’t sure that little kids didn’t deserve a real childhood where play was the main thing, not academic learning. And we weren’t too sure that we wanted to give up our own precious time with these little ones by sending them off to school too early. Oh, and one more thing, we also weren’t sure we could handle the exorbitant cost of some of these hot-shot commercial preschools which seemed to think we could afford Ivy League tuition right now!

So, we brainstormed about it, we and these good friends who had little kids the same age as ours. We asked ourselves what was the most important thing we could give our children at this age — what was the most important thing…

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