Formality bad for early years

5th March 2004 at 00:00
With regard to the Tomlinson Report, the knock-on effect for five to 14-year-olds, who it is claimed, will be required to do "even more" work, once again highlights the common misconceptions about what constitutes a good childhood foundation.

Those at the top seem to have little understanding of child development and the necessity of meeting the child's needs (particularly the under-sevens) in an appropriate way. But what is worse is that they do not appear to understand that they do not understand.

Time and again the evidence points towards delaying formalised education until around seven as a highly successful strategy for future educational success. Of equal importance is that, in the right environment, it would allow essential thinking and life skills to develop.

This would be the best grounding possible for good citizenship and for a lifelong-learning attitude towards education. It would also allow the citizens of tomorrow a better chance of developing good problem-solving skills and to understand when they have reached their own limitations and should defer.

There are plenty of committed people already involved in early-years development who could do wonders for our children. Give them the reins and abandon the ill-conceived Victorian approaches which continue to cascade down the generations.

Kate White

9 Stourvale Road, Bournemouth

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