Yesterday I visited the Kindergarten which my children attended. In Anglo Saxon countries Kindergarten means a place where children go when they are very young. At this Kindergarten, children stay until they are seven years old. The children start by doing one or two mornings a week, and by the time they are 7 they attend every morning. The hours are 0830-1230. I love this Kindergarten, for everything it stands for. The children enjoy a beautiful garden with swings, a wooden boat, a pond, a brick and wattle house built by older children at the school and a vegetable garden. They play outside whatever the weather.
The children do lovely things each day. They make different food every day, they serve it, they clear up. They sing together, they paint, they draw, they listen to stories told by the teacher. They take part in festivals, and feel the rhythm of the day, the week and the year. There are no books inside, the children do not learn to read and write, there are no sums, there are no desks. There is no rush.
As I sit in the garden of this Kindergarten I ask why many people believe that we need to start teaching our children to read and write at 4/5 years old. What on earth is the rush to start so early? To use one of the many American phrases I enjoy, what is the end game of this early start?
I wonder what our country would look and feel like if the early years of children were different.