01 August 2007

"more emphasis on children learning through play"

Of course this requires a "social structure" which allows for parenting time, so it cannot be considered in a nation like the United States, but many, many years ago, my mother, a third grade teacher, said that if she could do anything it would be to stop forcing reading and maths down the throats of unprepared children in first and second grades... "the damage done," she said, "is almost impossible to repair."

Pupils 'should begin school at age six or seven'

Anthea Lipsett
Wednesday August 1, 2007

Teachers today called for children to start school at six or seven years of age rather than four, as is currently the case.

The motion was presented to delegates at the Professional Association of Teachers (PAT) conference on Annual Playday, which celebrates children's right to play.

PAT former chair Deborah Lawson said children should be prepared for life and lifelong learning instead of the present focus on academic achievement and preparing them for school.

"If we move to a broader early years curriculum where the emphasis is not on the academic achievement by the age of five, but on a broader preparation of life and lifelong learning, we would not need to raise the school leaving age, which could be seen as remedial action for not getting things right at the foundation level," she said.

Countries that place more emphasis on children learning through play - such as in Scandinavia and central Europe - suit the way children learn much better, Ms Lawson said.

They have a broader curriculum and do more to prepare children for life and lifelong learning.

"Recent research suggests that children today do not have enough opportunity for free undirected play due to the increasingly hurried and pressured lifestyle that many families lead," she told delegates.

These children may be at a disadvantage when faced with real danger, as they may not have the skills to deal with difficult situations, she explained.

"Play allows children to have fun - so important - learn to socialise, make friends and share, express feelings, make choices, negotiate and problem solve," she added.


- Ira Socol

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