The failure of the United States education system begins with the littlest of them all. The infants, the toddlers, the preschoolers, and kindergartners. Parents of today are encouraged to place their little ones in the care of others; they’re told the children must socialize and begin school prep immediately.

 

That socialization was one of the saddest things I saw while working in a daycare; it wasn’t simply learning how to interact, it was the loss of self. The children were too young to fully hold onto their innate personalities and they began to become like one another, often in the least desired ways.

 

“Premature socialization was always considered by developmentalists to be the greatest sin in raising children ….[w]hen you put children together prematurely before they can hold on to themselves, then they become like [the others] and it crushes the individuality rather than hones it.”

--Dr. Gordon Neufeld (Vancouver-based developmental psychologist, and author of the book Hold on to Your Kids: Why Parents Need to Matter More Than Peers.)

 

Why does this happen? Humans in general want to be accepted by those they consider equals, this is no different for the youngest among us. We crave acceptance and, especially in the case of young children, attention.

 

The loudest one, the one who kicks, or bites and hits, is the one who commands attention. When a tantrum is thrown that child is the one teachers tend to. The lesson for the other children is easy to learn:

 

If you want more attention you must demand it by acting aggressively.

 

Unfortunately they pick up on that example all too easily. They’re adorable sponges, soaking up all the information given to them, and though we have real world studies that prove things like Head Start do not lead to better long-term outcomes, the practice of handing children off to ‘professionals’ is still pushed on parents who only want to provide the best for their progeny.

 

What actually happens is that they’re all raised in the same environment and their individuality is one of many losses.

 

We’ve seen multiple reports in recent years about the way formal instruction is trickling down through the educational pipeline; the more time spent at desks, the less time spent with natural learning.

 

Toddlers are being made to practice ‘test taking skills’ because in kindergarten they’ll begin exams. Instead of learning through play they must sit still for extended periods of time. Learning to read is no longer something that happens when a child is prepared, but is now foisted on them as a rigid milestone.

 

And oh those milestones! Parents & caregivers everywhere know the truth of the matter is that children reach developmental markers at different times, but general society and lawmakers insist on imposing a one-size fits all approach.

 

It simply doesn’t work and we see that every day in our school system.

 

As mentioned in "Educated" Part One, the United States of America continues to fall behind when it comes to standardized test scores even as officials push for more and more testing. It seems that every year younger children are reported to be experiencing stress and negative emotional, and mental, reactions over this practice.

 

They aren’t doing better, in too many cases they’re doing worse, and while many seem determined to remain on this path, parents & caregivers are finally starting to stand up and say, “Enough.” Enough with the data mining, enough with the intrusions into stable homes, and enough of forcing children to spend all day on their bums in a classroom.

 

Is this the beginning of change? The new demands for school choice, the parents who are opting out of high-stakes testing, and the growing number of families so dissatisfied with the system that they pull their children out altogether, are an encouraging sign.

 

Parents are preparing to take back the reins.