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newcomerc2's avatar

Are we pushing kids to learn too quickly?

Asked by newcomerc2 (11points) February 22nd, 2014

When I went into kindergarten we were not expected to know our ABC’s. We learned them in kindergarten. Now kids are expected to learn the the alphabet before they start kindergarten as well as to know how to count. What happened to just being kids and learning through exploring?

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21 Answers

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

We’re certainly not knocking them around enough.

Jonesn4burgers's avatar

I do not believe we are pushing our kids to learn too quickly. I think we do need a restructuring of HOW we teach our children. Populations are growing rapidly, and technology moving fast. Our schooling system has not seen changes sufficient to meet changing needs and goals. We have a greater than ever diversity of backgrounds and lifestyles. Our school system is funnelled, too much so withot changes to accommodate to a preferred end result.
My daughter learned to read when she was three. In kindergarten, she was tested at a reading level for the second grade, somewhat innacurate, because she later told me she wanted to go back to class with her friends, so she started answering wrong on purpose.
She was advanced beyond her classmates in a number of areas, but she suffered in the classroom until nearly middle school. There was such a high number of students at the school she attended who had only a rudimentary comprehension of english, well functioning students were set aside to focus on the needs of those struggling with language.
We are failing students who have a thirst to learn while struggling to lure students who will drop out or die before graduation.
A strong, enduring study of how to meet the needs of all students and lead them to the best possible learning environment for them needs to be put into place.
I have long thought choosing a student’s grade level by age only to be a mistake.
I read from your question that you do not feel change to be neccessary. When I was in kindergarten, the boys who were ten years old and up would go home, do a few hours’ chores, take a rifle out and hunt game for dinner, then do a few more chores, having dinner shortly before dashing off to bed. Should we go back to that?

creative1's avatar

By the age of 4 I knew my ABC’s, how to count, tie my shoes, could spell and write my name holding the pencil correctly this is nothing more than we are asking the kids of today to know. When I went into Kindergarten the kids didn’t know half of it and I was left waiting for them to catch up because their parents didn’t teach them at home as they should have. I am proud of the schools to expect this all before entering Kindergarten and thought it was great when they did evaluations of the kids entering. This way kids like me aren’t left day dreaming while the others that are lacking to play catch up.

My daughter is learning how to read and do math which she began this last year when she was in Pre-K. I feel that if we don’t take advantage of all the connections that are forming at a young age the kids of tomorrow won’t be able to keep up and advance the technology we already have in place. Kids are far more teachable at a younger age then when they get older since their brains are still forming and putting these learning skilled into place at a young age is only going to help them.

Seaofclouds's avatar

I don’t think we are really pushing them to learn too quickly. My children learn through play. There is no pressure to get it right and no pressure to do better than anyone else around them. They learn to count during playtime. They learn to write during color time. Children, at least the ones I’ve had experience with, are eager to learn things and do more. They don’t look at it as work, it’s all fun to them.

Cruiser's avatar

Good luck finding any kids that are not enrolled in soccer, scouts, music or being tutored in math or online gaming away in their room. When I grew up my streets were clogged with kids playing games together….now it is a rarity to see kids doing anything outside that is not organized by soccer moms.

keobooks's avatar

I was in Kindergarten over 30 years ago and all the kids knew the ABCs and could count to at least 20 on day one. I went to a Montessori school so maybe it was freaky different.

Jonesn4burgers's avatar

@Cruiser, My daughter spent the afternoon playing soccor with the neighbor kids, and now they are out trying to turn some dirt to prep a new area to be garden this spring. They are all good students. Each owns an xbox, but none of them were turned on today. I don’t have to go far to find a kid doing a good balance between technology and inspired activity. All I had to do was ask her to wash the dishes!

Jonesn4burgers's avatar

Ooops! Soccer.

talljasperman's avatar

I’m 36 and I still don’t know how tie my shoes, My mom did it for me last year and I’ve kept it by slipping in and out of them. I have three years of post-secondary and I still don’t know which their there to use properly… I went to pre-pre school before kindergarten and, I could read and write and count to a million. For what its worth high school was useless except to screen people from going to university.

bea2345's avatar

All my daughter needed to know before entering primary school at age 6 was: her name; the names of her parents; her home address; and telephone number. This she learned in pre-school. I thought the elementary curriculum OK; she enjoyed it – right up to the time she had to be prepared for the Common Entrance. That is an exam that all 11 year olds must take to identify to stream them – big joke. My hostility to the school curriculum dates from then. Too much, too soon. A child’s future should not hang on an examination at 11 years old.

talljasperman's avatar I had a similar discussion in 2003 about my psychology background. Dean scum buckets is right… We are all screwed from kindergarten to after university. The lucky ones only encourage more people to flood schools. Even expensive pre-kindergarten schools… children should be playing. generation screwed is right, but It is everyone in the next and previous generations too.

talljasperman's avatar

@talljasperman The link above has mild swearing. sorry for not listing it in the time frame.

Seek's avatar


I just pulled my kid out of public school because halfway through Kindergarten they were still teaching how to count to five and hadn’t yet taught the whole alphabet.

If you ask me, they could step it up a notch. Or at least start separating kids into classes by ability level instead of random computer printout. That way the Kindergarteners who already know how to read aren’t bored to tears in a class full of kids who don’t know shapes and colours yet.

Harold's avatar

My son could read fluently at the age of three, skipped a year in primary school, did his higher school certificate at 16, had a degree at 19, and a Masters at 21. Why? Partly because he is naturally gifted, and partly because my wife taught him to read and write before he started school. Would this work for everyone? No. Should the opportunity be available for everyone? Most definitely. Kids learn from structured learning programs, not from just “being kids”. Structured learning does not preclude them from being kids anyway, if it is balanced.

jerv's avatar

“When I went into kindergarten we were not expected to know our ABC’s.”

You must be kidding. Nowadays, we have college sophomores that aren’t expected to know that, and it saddens me.

I entered kindergarten a year early, and was already reading on a 3rd-grade level. Granted, I am a bit of a special case, but I would expect a 6 year old to know at least as much as I did when I was 3. And no, it didn’t keep me from being a kid. I still climbed trees and made snowmen just like all the other kids.

BTW, you realize that part of the unemployment issue we currently have is due to a lack of qualified applicants, right? We are losing jobs overseas because many overseas know English better by their early-teens than many Americans do by their mid-20s. Yet you want to continue that lowering of standards despite the fact that kids overseas get to be kids despite learning.

Jonesn4burgers's avatar

@talljasperman, this is how I taught my daughter to remember the “theres”
If you don’t want to be HERE, just add a “T”, and you will get “THERE”..
If anybody wants an “HEIR”’ they should look at “THEIR” son.
Sorry I can’t do anything about yor shoes. You might consider loafers. (That was meant to be funny.)

newcomerc2's avatar

I have heard different sides of this debate. Though I find it interesting that those that I heard from before mainly believed that we are pushing our kids to hard. I am not sure where I stand on this. I can see both sides to some degree. Every parent doesn’t want their child left behind and they want them to be prepared for life. That being said we expect to sit a 6 year-old in a classroom and to have them sit still at a desk the majority of the time and learn from the teacher. Granted not all schools are that way. But a lot are. We are constantly pushing children to do better and to learn more, which isn’t always a bad thing. But they have to fit into that box that they were assigned to by their age. They can’t learn things at different rates or in different ways. The class basically stays together unless one fails and they join their peers the year behind them.
I do think schools should change, but I don’t think testing it the way to go. It only leads more to everyone being in the same shoes or box or whatever. And adds more pressure for them to understand knowledge in a certain way that they will not see in real life, which makes it harder for them to know how to use it in real life.
I am not a big fan of sorting children by their ages. While I know that age is a big determiner in what a child can do, it is only a basic guideline. So it should be considered, it should not be the primary way to determine when a child should start school. And there is more to determining when I child is ready for school than what they already know.
I am currently in Germany. I have put my youngest child into German kindergarten (basically pre-k & kindergarten). They don’t consider school starting until you are in first grade. It is different in that my older two were working on their alphabets and reading while in kindergarten and on counting and adding. My youngest however is not working on those. She plays with the other kids. They have maybe an hour of instruction a week for crafts. My older two are not in the German schools as they are going to the international school. However I have a friend whose children are in the German schools in grades 1, 3, 4 & 6. She says that while her youngest plays much of the time she does do some school work, but it is more like she is in kindergarten. However their work load seems to increase greatly as they get older. Her 6th grader has about 2 hours of homework each day. They only have school from 8am-noon. A lot of what her oldest is learning is at or above where she would be in the states. I am not saying we should go the German route but it really has gotten me to think about it. They start formal education a little later but they catch up academically by the time the kids are in middle school. It doesn’t seem to hurt them.

Seek's avatar

You’re looking at it from the outside.

I, like @jerv and @luckyguy, was an early learner. Entered school at four reading… I don’t know what level, but I was on Tolkien. I was offered the chance to skip two grades. My mother is an idiot and refused. I ended up bored with school, graduated with a mid-C average and still haven’t been to college. Being held back with kids who didn’t have the ability to learn at my pace was torture, and it continues to hurt me.

jerv's avatar

@Seek_Kolinahr I was also offered a chance to skip middle school and go right from 6th to 9th grade, but I was already younger than most of my classmates. Out of the 160 I graduated with, only 3 were younger than me, and only by a few weeks.

@newcomerc2 Here in America, it’s all about “teaching to the test” to keep the government money rolling in, and passing kids on so that we don’t make our already-too-large classes even larger and overburden our teachers even more. If you want education, this really isn’t the place to get it.

Personally, I am largely self-educated, and I think it safe to day that there are at least two other people in this thread that are as well. Part of the problem I had in school was that there were certain things I knew more about than the teachers did. The “by the book” teachers often gave me bad grades while those that cared more about me knowing the material gave be no lower than a B+ despite not handing in my homework most of the time. I almost failed my computer class until the teacher got locked out of my classwork disk by a clever bit of code complete with a subroutine trapping the normal “break” command usually used to circumvent such things. After that, he figured I knew enough more than he was being paid to teach me. There is no accommodation for fast-learners in most schools. I was lucky to be in a school system that actually had some ability and willingness to deal with people like me who weren’t right in the middle of the bell curve.

It was the same in the Navy, only moreso. They aren’t out to educate, merely to get kids to follow directions and fit into a mold. No thought, merely rote memorization and slavish adherence to established protocol.

That is what our “educational” system is for. It’s not for knowledge.

longgone's avatar

We’re pushing some, while holding back the others. We need to get away from the idea of a school teaching all kids the same stuff. It’s insane.

El_Cadejo's avatar

@Cruiser I don’t see online gaming as a necessarily bad thing. It can teach us a lot about working as a team to achieve a common goal.

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