Kids pushed to learn too soon

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Over the past 20 years or so, we have been told by politicians and educators that we must start teaching our children earlier so they can succeed. These people should read about child development and cognitive abilities. Pushing children to learn what they are physically and cognitively not ready for seems counterproductive.

I grew up in Philadelphia in the 1970s and attended a kindergarten where I learned life skills such as playing together, sharing toys, saying “please” and “thank you,” kicking a ball and – my favorite – coloring feathers, making them into an American Indian headband and prancing around the room. In Educational Psychology 101, these things are appropriate for this age group.

I have five children from age 31 to just turning 6, and I want to tell you that we are missing the big picture. My son is in kindergarten, and he is not learning anything like I did. He must spell his name, memorize various words, learn the alphabet – including sounds – and sit at his desk and be quiet. Our educational systems are telling us and our children that these things are important.

Needless to say, he isn’t doing too well – probably because, as anyone who has had boys or knows one can tell you, there are more important things for 6-year-old boys to do. He needs to watch the fly that sat on his hand, the butterfly that is flying past the teacher or, more importantly, the ants that found some food under the desk. These are things boys need to know!

Why are so many kids autistic? They’re not – they’re kids! They are doing the same thing children have done for years – enjoying life, because one day that stops. Why is it so important that we make it stop?

In 1977 I graduated with 24 credits, and I was accepted by every college I applied to. I found college boring, so I joined the Navy, became a nuclear operator and have not had a problem finding a job. My wife graduated in 1982 with 24 credits in Virginia, and was accepted by every college she applied to. My oldest daughter graduated from North Augusta High School in 1998 with 24 credits and attended the University of South Carolina. My youngest daughter is a student at Aquinas High School, and the requirement to graduate is 24 credits.

Over 30 years, the number of credits to graduate have not changed. I also looked at college-entry requirements and they were pretty much the same across the board (Georgia Tech requires 20 credits, and South Carolina requires only 19). If it’s so important that we start earlier and learn faster, why haven’t requirements changed?

If we are so concerned with the dropout rates of our children, maybe it is because we start them too early, which means they are tired of school earlier. Let kids be kids! They get to be adults the rest of our lives.

Tom Kohler

North Augusta, S.C.

(The author holds bachelor’s degrees in education training and development, and in nuclear engineering technology.)

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specsta
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specsta 02/15/12 - 02:25 am
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"Needless to say, he isn’t

"Needless to say, he isn’t doing too well – probably because, as anyone who has had boys or knows one can tell you, there are more important things for 6-year-old boys to do."

Mr. Kohler, you hit the nail on the head. I would even go as far to say that the educational system has failed boys, with the elimination of recess and playtime in some school districts. These interpersonal play activities are absolutely crucial in the development of boys, and to shut them down and make them sit quietly in a classroom with no means of releasing this energy is emasculating.

Boys need to be boys and to define them as having some condition like ADD in need of some calming drug is a solution in search of a problem. What's the point of making more and more demands on these boys, prepping them for tests, etc. and ignoring how their mental growth is being stagnated by such approaches? Why not embrace their natural development and stop forcing them to be something that they're not?

avidreader
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avidreader 02/15/12 - 06:56 am
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If public schools do not

If public schools do not offer pre-K and Kindergarten, then who's going to babysit all of these kids eight hours per day? Who's going to feed them breakfast and lunch (and snacks after school for many)? I still wonder why we refer to high school seniors as 12th-graders, when really they're 14th-graders.

Mr. Kohler, your letter is perfect. Let the churches and community centers run pre-schools for curious children. I never attended a publically-funded pre-school or kindergarten, and my generation produced NASA engineers and cutting-edge computer wizards and hard-working textile employees. Any generation that is encouraged to THINK will succeed with twelve years of education. Why not begin earning credits in middle school and build upon them in high school?

Personally, I believe that our nation is a land of entitlements, run by bureaucrats who create policies simply to attempt justification for their jobs. Amen!

shrimp for breakfast
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shrimp for breakfast 02/15/12 - 08:51 am
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I agree with the letter

I agree with the letter writer and both commenters. There's actually nothing left for me to add except I was fortunate to go to a Catholic school for the first 7 years of my education. When I was a sub-freshman in an 8th grade public school I couldn't believe how easy it was. By the time I was a senior I only had to take 3 classes. I got out of school at 11:20am every day. What a great time to be a 17 year old. I had a paper route in the morning so I had a car and money. I graduated in 1976 and went on to college and graduated in 1980. Got my masters in 1983, and another one in 1986. I can't believe I miss school!

soldout
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soldout 02/15/12 - 09:03 am
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Great letter. There was a

Great letter. There was a study done, probably 20 years ago that showed no boy should start school before age seven. If you wait until they are seven they have a much easier time with learning. The doctor who did the study tried to get a law passed in California to hold boiys back and the parents had a fit. I have seen that the later a boy starts school the better he does.

allhans
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allhans 02/15/12 - 12:52 pm
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I am from the old school.

I am from the old school. You can never start teaching kids too early. Times have changed...wait too long and you will lose them.
I knew my numbers and letters and began first grade at age 5. Learning was fun, ..waiting for others to catch up was the boring part.
I am all for education..the 3 R's, the earlier the better. (before they reach the age of rebellion.)

shrimp for breakfast
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shrimp for breakfast 02/15/12 - 10:23 am
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Allhans I too started at age

Allhans I too started at age 5. September of 1964. I didn't turn 6 until October. I remember we had a mock election of Johnson vs. Goldwater. We first graders picked Johnson. The reason was because his ballot was red and Goldwater's was yellow. The kids liked red better than yellow. We sure didn't know anything about politics.
Ain't that a hoot! Funny the things you remember.
Oh by the way I never went to kindergarten but I don't know why. I guess I better ask my dad while he's still around.

Jane18
12332
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Jane18 02/15/12 - 12:07 pm
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Mr. Kohler you have just said

Mr. Kohler you have just said what so many people have known for a long time. When you talked about the flies,etc., you made the best argument against ADHD(attention deficit hyperactivity disorder). Why can't people see these kids, especially boys, need these stimulants for their own well-being? I know when we were kids, we taught the younger ones how to count, the abc's, and write(especially their names). We all had chores of some kind, but, after that , it was KID TIME!! We aren't rocket scientists, but we've done very well, and none of us have been in prison!

Bizkit
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Bizkit 02/15/12 - 01:22 pm
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With this mindset the US will

With this mindset the US will remain behind in education. Just like there is a global economy there is a global education effort which we are failing miserably-even third world countries educate their kids better and start younger. Note the Cancer building at GHS isn't filled with Americans-asians and indians. Asians far outcompete any other ethnicity in SAT, GRE, MCAT, IQ you name it-perhaps they are doing something we should pay greater attention to. We are producing a generation of morons-thanks to lets let em be kids-they can do that at home. School is about an education- sure developing the social skills is critical too. If I had it to do again I would have home schooled my kids. Lets not make excuses and let ignorance begat ignorance.

shrimp for breakfast
5460
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shrimp for breakfast 02/15/12 - 03:38 pm
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Bizkit I laughed out loud

Bizkit I laughed out loud when you said we are producing a generation of morons until I realized you were right.
As a musician I played for a teacher friend's 8th grade class a few years ago. An assignment she gave them was to write me a thank you letter.
Out of 30. kids I remember only ONE letter made sense. The rest were pitiful. Spelling was so bad I actually laughed at a lot of them. No sentence structure, punctuation was non exisistant, and a lot of the handwriting looked like a 2 year old scribbling.
After a while it wasn't funny anymore. I couldn't understand how an 8th grader could not spell, or form one complete sentence.
Amazing!

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