I started to comment on Gena’s blog entry, but my comment became longer than her entry, so I decided I’d blog it myself and link back.
Responding to the Doug Hunt article, Gena is right on–they belong HOME! But, at the risk of being swung around by my hair, I’ll admit that I call my 3 year olds (in fact, even my 1 and 2 year olds) students.
3 year olds (like 13 year olds) have NO business being ripped away from the family unit and put into herds. But at the same time, I would indeed call a 3 year old a student. A student is, in fact, one who studies. Every 3 year old I’ve met does an enormous amount of studying! They are curious about everything around them. Every moment they are listening, watching, exploring, and learning, learning, learning! Learning is a fun game to these tykes, and that is one of the main reasons to keep them HOME!
There are so many MORE opportunities for exploring and learning in a natural environment of the home than in a school room. Whether they should learn the academics early is beside the point. They don’t need to be doing any formal “school work” to be learning. (Although personally, we choose to teach our Prairiefrogs quite a bit of the “schoolish stuff” while they are young and eager.)
Regardless of what the child is learning though (And there is no reason a child needs to be learning to read at 3–we do it in our family, but we are odd), they are learning! The snacks and vacuuming with mama that Gena mentioned–that is learning! With their innate curiosity and eagerness, I’d venture to say that 3 year olds are better students than most of the zombies filling college classrooms. (For the zombies may be enrolled, but unless they study, they can’t really be students.)
The Doug Hunt article is just propaganda to get them into the system younger. I’ve read quotes from educators readily admitting that the reason they want children in school younger is because the learn so quickly in those formative years, and are already forming a tight bond with their “family of origin”. If they stay with the family unit until age 5 it is difficult to erase the family values from their identity. Schools are threatened by them being home, assimilating family values.
Toddlers: They study, ergo they are students.
(Which is a good reason TO keep them home where they belong.)