Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Early Academics vs Developmental Approach

So, do early academics help kids get a head? Here's a few studies that address the question.

Differential impact of preschool models on development and early learning of inner-city children: A three-cohort study. (Unfortunately, you have to pay to see the whole article.)

"Children in the child-initiated model demonstrated greater mastery of basic skills than did children in programs in which academics were emphasized and skills were taught.......Children in the combination model did significantly poorer on all measures .........compared with children in either the child-initiated or academically directed models."

The thing which I find interesting is that combining the play model with the academic model got the worse results.

Here's the follow-up to that study: Moving up the Grades: Relationship between Preschool Model and Later School Success.

"By the end of their sixth year in school, children whose preschool experiences had been academically directed earned significantly lower grades compared to children who had attended child-initiated preschool classes. Children's later school success appears to have been enhanced by more active, child-initiated early learning experiences. Their progress may have been slowed by overly academic preschool experiences that introduced formalized learning experiences too early for most children's developmental status. "

Early Childhood Education: Developmental or Academic reviews a variety of studies. Here's a few of their conclusions.

"One study by Hirsh Pasek and Cone compared the children who had attended an academic preschool with those who had attended a developmentally appropriate program. Although there were no academic differences between the groups, the children attending the academic program were more anxious and had lower self esteem."

"The children who had been introduced to reading late, however, were more motivated and spontaneous readers than those who had begun early."

"Bruner reports that in French Switzerland where reading instruction is begun at the preschool level, there is a large percentage of children with reading problems. In German Switzerland, where reading is not taught until ages six or seven, there are few reading problems. In Denmark, where reading is taught late there is almost no illiteracy."

Here's a few tidbits from another multiple research review by Center for Research on the Education of Disadvantaged Students.

"There is little evidence for long-term effects of full-day kindergarten, even after first grade. There is little evidence to suggest that full-day kindergarten has any positive effect with middle-class children."

So, relax and let your children be children.

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