After reading this 2011 article on the wisdom delaying formal education, I found a book called Better Late Than Never (1989) by Robert and Dorothy Moore, advocating later education. I’ve just read the first two chapters, but I cannot help but share a few gleanings off this treasure trove of a book:
Who and what comes first-parent’s liberty or their children’s welfare? True freedom implies responsibility to protect another person’s liberties. If the young child develops best at home, then it is the greater loss for him, and ultimately society, if he is sent elsewhere. (p. 4)
I do not think that the solution to the nation’s child care problem is to provide every young child with a preschool education or to place every child from a certain age on in a child care center. I believe that we should do everything in our power to strengthen and support family life rather than supplant it in any way. We must provide good substitute socializing settings for children of mothers who choose to work. But we should be wary of those who suggest that centers or experts are intrinsically superior to home set tings. We must be aware of how the nature of the family has changed. We should use this awareness in developing social institutions that are not just centers for children, but also institutions that work directly toward supporting family life. (p. 15)
Without professional training, simply by being herself, a concerned, loving mother usually can do more for her normal child than a teacher can. Parents should, of course, be willing to learn new ideas. But a mother need not be a trained teacher, nor does she need to teach in any formal way. By using the framework of everyday home activities in a practical way, she can help her child learn as much as possible about the things around him. (p. 21)
Children are happiest when they are busy, and keeping them busy should not be a matter for concern. Much of a child’s busyness will be accomplished on his own. Much of it will come from the child’s questions and curiosity. The parent’s goal should be to respond to the child’s questions in a patient, consistent and constructive way. Forget about the pressures of achieving. Cultivate the idea of being happily child-centered, for the child is important. Take advantage of his motivation of the moment. Be happy that he is curious, and try to go along with his curiosities whenever you can. (p. 21)
A reason often given for the trend toward early schooling is that such experience gives a child opportunity to learn how to get along with others. Several questions should be raised about this presumed benefit of early schooling. What is the evidence that these children actually do get along better? What kind of socialization should they have? Do we want them simply to make many acquaintances? Or do we expect them to develop concern and consideration for others and respect for older people? What do we really mean by “getting along”? Are these values really best developed in a crowded situation, where a child has relatively little attention from an adult whom he can use as a pattern? Or will he find more identity of the right kind in a home where his parents can respond to him on a consistent, warm and constructive basis throughout the day, and where youngsters in the neighborhood can challenge his selfish ideas? The so called preschool socializing process does not necessarily socialize ideally… In fact, there is considerable support for the notion that, for most children, the preschool is not the best for social purposes. The young child needs a free but some what protected environment. He should not be subjected to undue excitement or competition until he develops the ability to reason consistently-and until he has reached a level of maturity at which he perceives well and begins to see his environment in a less selfish perspective. Until then, he cannot see another’s point of view. This applies even when he is at home, although the demands of school often induce more selfishness than generosity in the social life of the 5 or 6 year old. And such selfish attitudes generally limit his sociability. Parents should make up their minds what kind of children they want, and what sacrifices they are willing to make. They should be aware of what they can do that teachers never can provide. They should consider care fully how much they risk when they place their children in environments over which they have little control. Children like to act “big.” They want to be like “the big kids.” This would be fine if they imitated the best qualities of their idols. Unfortunately, this is not so often the case. Children quickly pick up new tastes, mannerisms and speech, and too often the worst of these. This is less likely to happen if they remain in a reasonably good home until age 8 or 10. (p. 23-24)
What do you think?