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Author Topic: Early academic learning is harmful?  (Read 71954 times)
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« on: July 26, 2015, 02:18:59 AM »

Just wondering if anyone has read the recent articles below stating that early learning is harmful. It will be interesting to know how our early learners are faring in school in later years. We make math fun for our 3.5 year olds. Eg. they happily volunteer to divide up food and learn multiplication at the same time. We play with Mortensen blocks. One asks to recite the 12 times table while I pour the milk into his cereal. They love books and read well. They are nowhere near liking workbooks so we barely touch those. I think the articles  confirm that learning at early ages must really be fun otherwise it could backfire. Anyone knows if there are studies showing a clear advantage to early learning?

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« Reply #1 on: August 27, 2015, 11:09:45 AM »

Studies showing the effects of early learning at all are pretty minimal. Good or bad they just aren't  done. There are thousands of articles stating its bad but very few with any real study to back it up. I can't actually think of a single article that I couldn't poke large holes in very easily.

You asked about the older kids. Well I can tell you the ones I know are doing very well. I know quite a few of them now smile
My own three are this year in school and thriving. They are very well rounded kids. They win sports trophies at school carnivals and have black belts in taekondo. They play piano (with amazing musical memory!) and participate in drama performances. They are strait A students academically and are invited to all the parties as they are very well liked. They absolutely love learning still. Their bedtime stories are often non fiction by their choice and we are constant lay doing trips to the library for more books. Early learning certainly did them no harm!

The only problem we have faced is in keeping them challenged at school. They find it all very easy and need more to chew on. In the past I have extended their learning topics at home but the future looks like it will involve homeschooling to keep them challenged. They will hit the ceiling of what school can teach them well before they finish school by age or grade. But if that's my only EL criticism then I would still do it all over again!


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« Reply #2 on: August 27, 2015, 07:28:50 PM »

Hi Amalie,

Amalie, this is just my reflections on my personal experience. I hope it might interesting in some way!

Mandabplus, it seems your family probably did something right on the socialization front! Do you have any favorite ideas on socialization education for EL kids in non-EL school-age environments?

First, let me poke some holes in the Psych Today articles! smile The first article talks about preschools. While adapting EL to a preschool class presents interesting technical questions, the tried-and-true EL method is a caregiver and a child one-on-one. There are millions of great ways to extend that, but the one-on-one is the core system. So even if a bunch of particular preschool systems failed in their research, I would blame those particular preschool systems, not EL in general. The second article compares alternative education methods that do better or worse, all of them starting off at 4 y/o or older, and all of them based in classroom-settings.

So, I feel like neither of these articles really engages with the core EL techniques. But I will continue to play the "devil's advocate" to try to answer your question. Let me use myself as a case example to identify three possible NEGATIVE mechanisms that can perhaps explain the lack of EL-generated Albert Einstein's and Ada Lovelace's.

Note that my parents raised me with EL (Doman) flashcards etc, starting when I was 2 y/o. Now I'm 30, and my wife and I are expecting (due in 1 wk). We're getting ready to implement EL ourselves, so if anything I'm biased in favor of EL. But here's the negative:

As Amalie notes, I suppose that attempts at EL play that aren't kept joyous and fun could have negative consequences. That's certainly one to watch out for. I didn't experience this until 6 or 7 years old, but I had some moderately negative experiences at those ages. My mother pushed me to complete Kumon assignments and piano practice by taking away my stuff and freedoms etc. While I still enjoy and am "good" at music and math today, those things never became a big passion for me. But maybe those "negative" experiences were also an important part of learning some aspect of discipline - hard for me to really know.

Mandabplus mentions a second negative mechanism in laziness learned from a boring school. If a child benefits enormously from EL, but then enters a schooling environment with few intellectual challenges for an entire decade, this could result in a habit of laziness that could eventually overshadow the initial EL head start. I definitely experienced this as well. While EL helped me succeed despite learned-laziness in academically competitive highschools, I was scrambling to learn study habits in 10th grade. I was still scrambling to learn legible note-taking habits at the age of 27 in Economics grad school. (Note that I still credit EL with my facility with reading and math, giving me test scores and writing ability to get accepted into grad schools, etc.)

But there is also a third, social, mechanism that I would like to mention.

In my experience, grade school from K to 12 was a messy social environment. Bullies aren't the half of it! I was probably a 'academic bully' myself, raising my hand at every opportunity, immediately and visibly reacting to incorrect answers from other students, etc. (I had a competitive environment at home, with a brother just 1.5 years older.) As a result, bullying wasn't necessary in my case: I achieved pariahship by consensus!

But, the story has a happy ending. In his late 30s, my father began retooling his career from engineering toward moving into middle-management. My love for reading, received from EL, enabled me to read his burgeoning library of leadership/pop-psychology/self-help books on my own motivation. From 8th grade through 10th grade, I read and experimented with the suggestions of Dale Carnegie, Donald Laird, Daniel Goleman, etc. Then, when we moved to Pittsburgh for my junior year of highschool, I soon found myself reasonably socially successful. If anything, perhaps I was too much of a social butterfly!

I think that a parallel education in diplomacy may be useful, to balance and ballast the intellectual acceleration of EL. In some families, teaching this to kids might be so natural that the parents may take it for granted. Children in other families might benefit from an explicit focus on learning "emotional intelligence" alongside intellectual pursuits. Of course pop-psych is probably an imperfect source for this - faith traditions or other philosophy could offer a richer body of material. My wife and I certainly plan to place social and moral competencies explicitly at the center of our learning curriculum.

In summary of the social mechanism, I entered the schoolyard benefiting from an extensive EL curriculum, but without diplomacy training. I had very different habits, and a very different mental toolbox than the roomful of non-EL second-graders. It may have almost been like being a different ethnicity, with distinct accent markers. The difficulties entailed by "difference without diplomacy," may offer a third mechanism predicting difficulties faced by EL kids.

Finally, let me link to an alternate explanation for the EL naysayers's persistence: "regret-aversion".


« Last Edit: August 27, 2015, 10:15:39 PM by StevenBhardwaj » Logged

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« Reply #3 on: August 27, 2015, 09:43:15 PM »

My children learnt social skills from good parenting and a quality intake of children at their school. They truely are surrounded by lovely kids at school and this certainly helps, as their views reflect what I teach my kids.
I spend a lot of time and effort on learning the best parenting techniques, self questioning my views and making sure I am raising my kids right.
I recommend two books over all others so far
"It Ok not to share and other renegade rules for parenting" and "internal Drive" these two will make you question everything you think you know and that is the point. Make informed choices and follow through on your choices every time. Hope that helps. smile


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« Reply #4 on: September 11, 2015, 05:38:06 AM »

I think early learning is not harmful if you teach the kids using a playful method. Don’t force them to learn. First try to build their interest, then teach them step by step. happy

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« Reply #5 on: December 16, 2016, 12:34:16 PM »

Hello! I really liked your story. Thank you!

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« Reply #6 on: June 07, 2017, 01:28:25 AM »

I believe with the idea that letting our child learning academic early isn't a good idea. I don't mean that learning academic is bad for children but more importantly, why we want our children learn academic early? So far, I see no reason for it.
I said that since based on my experience in my place, things are quite ("quite" is a lighter to describe it) rough for children. Why on Earth kindergarten children have to learn math and stuffs? Why on Earth there is a so-called entrance test to the elementary school?
I don't why parents keep doing that for their children, but personally I don't see any legit reason for it.

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« Reply #7 on: April 11, 2018, 03:43:59 PM »

I don't think that it's harmful, but you need to start it consistently. Don't give a lot of information at once, so as not to overdo it. This situation is similar to how I was preparing to enter the university in the last grades. Gradually, I increased the load by learning new subjects and improving my knowledge in others.

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« Reply #8 on: July 09, 2018, 12:48:49 PM »

Hello everybody,
It’s been a while since I visited this website.
My son was about 14 months old when we started the reading program (Your Baby Can Read) and later math, music, dance, whatever I could think of. Plus he is bilingual. Not only understans and speaks, but I tought him read and write in Hungarian also.
He is 9 years old now. He is an only child. He skipped a grade from 1st to second grade, so he is going to be in 5th grade in september. He is still one of the bests in his class, still advanced in reading and math is not a challange (yet?). He loves reading and with that, his writing skills are really good. He has friends, socially normal, plays the violin ( he started when he was 4), does taekwondo. He is interested in lots of different thinngs.....
I am apsolutely positive, that early learning is not harmful. I never understood why would we hold them back when they are interested in learning ( for them is rather trying, exploring) new things. It could be harmfull if they didnt want to do that. Of course I would never force it.
All in all, I am very happy that I did what I did with him, for him and I really appreciate this website, the moms and dads who shared their journey, ideas, discoveries...I learned a lot from them. Thanks again for everybody.

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