For some parents, seeing their neighbor’s three-year-old child read a book while theirs can’t read even a single word sends them into panic mode. Despite many experts telling us children learn at their own pace, we get concerned that our kids could get left behind unless we do something.
In California, Early Childhood Education (ECE) programs are available to support the development of children from birth until age five. While enrolling our kids in these programs has its benefits, we should also take note of some important things regarding their development.
Early education does not necessarily result in long-term achievements
As parents, we often think that the sooner our kids learn to read and write or start their education, the more things they can achieve as they grow up. This results in putting pressure both on ourselves and also on our kids, to ensure they get ahead of the game. But stressing ourselves isn’t really necessary. Some language experts say that early learners are not destined to be better when they grow up. Some studies also suggest that kids who start their education early do not excel more than those who begin later. If we feel our kids would be better off starting early, we can go ahead and send them to preschool, but there’s no evidence yet to support it will result in them attaining long-term achievements.
Kids also develop useful skills through play
Despite what experts say, it’s still never easy as parents to just sit down, relax, and wait for our kids to learn at their own pace. As a parent myself, my brain never stops thinking of ways of how my kids could learn as much as possible in their formative years. Do we hire them a tutor? Do we buy them educational DVD sets? It can be nerve-racking, and if our kids can’t read by age three, we start to ask, “Are we not doing enough?” But again, what if our kids can’t read like others their age? As they say, kids are like popcorn: some pop early, some pop late. However, they’ll eventually pop at some point. One thing we can give them without stressing ourselves, but which is highly important, is free play. As many experts say, playing allows kids to explore on their own and helps develop their creativity and imagination – skills that are especially useful in the 21st century.
So, the next time another three-year old kid shows off their reading skills, keep calm and know that your kid’s success in the future isn’t determined by whether or not they started reading early.
JK Legaspi is a freelance writer and a mother of two