Massive cheating in school, kids at the nation’s best schools who can’t string two sentences together in an interview, helicopter parents editing (or writing entirely) papers for kids at Ivy League colleges and then asking to come to their kid’s first job performance review! As education researchers, we feel like we have seen it all during the last few years. Despite some horror stories, we are encouraged because the conversation is starting to change.
While there are still parents who start their child’s Harvard application in utero, we hear more and more from parents who know that most kids just can’t sustain the pace we are asking of them. Honestly, most adults can’t sustain the pace we are asking of our children. We want kids to be engaged in school and to learn the skills that they will need to succeed in a 21st century economy, starting from the very first day they go to school.
At Challenge Success the advice we give to parents really isn’t all that different whether your child is 2 or 22 years old: know and love the child before you; work hard to separate the fact and fiction surrounding parenting in a hyper-charged environment; and realize that most mistakes you may make can be corrected without ruining your child’s future. This may seem hard to do as you face a pile of applications to preschool for the first time, but we think if you approach this as the beginning of an educational journey and establish some ground rules early, your entire family will reap benefits from a more sane approach to child-raising. So, we suggest you try the following:
Know that there is not usually just one right path. The truth is that most families have options when it comes to preschool. So while it’s important to make an informed decision, if you find somewhere that feels good, don’t over think it. Trust yourself. Know that chances are your children will be happy at whatever school you put them in-and if for some reason they aren’t, you can make a change. And remember that the purpose of pre-school (or any grade really) is to teach kids the skills that are developmentally appropriate, not to prepare them for kindergarten-that just happens in the process.
Note: one of our thoughtful readers commented that the work done by Kathleen Hirsch-Pasek and Adele Diamond both point to benefits of guided-play. We consider schools using a guided play curriculum to be play-based schools.