Learning By Play
Not Workshops

When I opened my email the other day, I was stunned to see a solicitation for a "pre-writing" workshop for four and five year olds. It listed skills that would be addressed and achieved, and described the structure of the multi-week workshop. Aside from wondering where the leaders of the workshop got my email address, I was a tad horrified at the message it sent: start preparing your kids early for the intense competition of Kindergarten. What?

Four year old girl with tutor

While I applaud the entrepreneurial spirit of the moms who set up this workshop (two occupational therapists ) I do question the need and the appropriateness. These are young children, at the start of their academic careers, not teenagers looking for a leg up on college applications. For the common four and five year old, life should be about fun and learning through play, not workshops.

Kindergarten, in our town, is not about academic achievement. It's about introducing five year olds to school and formal instruction, it's about socialization, and it's about assessment for future academics. It's about fun, too, for the kids. Given the overall track record of our schools and how our high schoolers are doing, I'm content to let this continue in this way. My daughter loves Kindergarten; she loves school - and that's what I want to promote right now.

Tutoring and the neurotypical preschooler

If your child has some developmental issues and needs some one-on-one time with a therapist or counselor to strengthen certain skills, that's one thing. If you have a completely normal child, learning through play is how they learn best. Introducing them to the concept of academic competitiveness too early may backfire on you - you may end up with a child that hates school and burns out early.

Kids develop at different paces, and developmental jumps can happen very quickly. These different paces do not mean your child needs tutoring to get to the next level - it's not about competition at this age! My daughter went from drawing circular scribbles to drawing recognizable human forms in less than a week - without tutoring. My sons have made similar developmental jumps throughout their academic career, all at their own pace. It's just the way kids work.

Parental competition

This workshop really seems to be more about parental competition than anything for the kids. "My four year old can write complex sentences with perfectly formed letters. Can yours?" You know what? I don't care if your kid can do that or not. My kid is happy and learning, backward letters and all. School is a joy for her. It will all come together in the next few months and years, whether I get tutoring for my child or not.

For more tips on getting your child school-ready


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