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Early Education Gets A Low Grade

Early Education Gets A Low GradeTuftschild development expert David Elkind says that the growing trendof providing preschool-age children with academic tutoring isnot beneficial for the child.Medford/Somerville,Mass.

Medford/Somerville, Mass. [04.20.05] In an increasingly popular trend, some parents arehaving their children tutored in math and reading before theyeven reach kindergarten age. While supporters of such programssay that youngsters gain confidence and valuable academic skillsahead of their peers, a Tufts child development expert says educatingyour child at a young age may not hold many benefits.

"Thereis no research that shows that early academic programs have alasting positive impact on children," DavidElkind, professor of child development at Tufts, told TheChristian Science Monitor.

On the contrary,said Elkind, such programs could have negative consequences.

"Studiesshow that the high pressure of early academic programs can resultin children with higher anxiety levels and lower self-esteem whoare not doing any better academically," he told the Monitor.

Elkind toldThe Wall Street Journal that he has seen severe casesof overly stressed pre-schoolers scratching their heads to thepoint of bleeding, pulling out their hair, or developing eatingdisorders.

In his landmark1981 book The Hurried Child, Elkind warned that over-programmingchildren's lives could have unfavorable results. He has toutedthe value of unstructured play in giving children the room tobe creative in learning life skills at their own pace.

Part of theproblem, Elkind says, is parental insecurity.

"Parentsare being told that they need an expert to do everything, includingteaching their little ones how to read and write before they areready," he told the Monitor.

In addition,suggests Elkind, a sense of powerlessness could drive parentsto control their child's future through such tutoring programs.

"[Parents]no longer control what happens in school," Elkind told theJournal, "or what comes over the media."

Rather thansend their kids to class upon class, Elkind says that parentsshould forego placing their children in an academic environmentat an early age and take a more active role in fostering theirnatural curiosity.

"Parentsshould teach their children by responding to their questions andinitiatives," he told the Monitor. "They shouldnot be pressuring them to learn."


















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