I received a rather frantic email from a friend when school started last fall. Panicking over the number of parents posting first day of preschool pictures, my friend wondered if she had made a mistake by not sending her four-year-old to school. “When did preschool become so popular?” she asked in dismay.
She wasn’t imagining things. Preschool is very popular. Education is important, argues society, so the sooner a child starts school, the better off he will be. As a result, many little kids are almost expected to read and do simple algebraic equations before starting kindergarten. (I’m kidding on that last one. But, you never know…)
It hasn’t always been like this. Once upon a time kids didn’t go to preschool. Or kindergarten. And when they did go to the latter, the expectations were much more kid-friendly and age appropriate.
I realized this when I ran across the following image shared by Sarah Mackenzie, author of The Read-Aloud Family. Strikingly absent from the list, Mackenzie notes, is any mention of knowing letters or being able to read.
Kids go to school earlier because its free daycare for (often single) mothers who now work outside the home. Instead of learning how to learn, they are now rushed into reading and math because that”s how a factory works. Set production methods with set production goals, and zero tolerance for non-conforming pieces.