If you don't want to see
you child stymied by the abstraction
I am not suggesting that
a child who is old enough to start school
As with a lot of topics that I feel compelled to address as a professional
I approach the topic I am going to write about
here with great trepidation. The reason for this apprehension is that the subject is extremely sensitive. It is for this reason
that I begin with this caveat: I am not a psychologist or sociologist, and I am not even an economist or any other kind of
professional data collector/interpreter.
Everything I have to say on the subject of the age that students should begin school is based on my 28 years of
experience teaching mathematics to middle school students.
Until recently there has been a movement to enroll students in school as soon as a school would accept them. Some of
the reasons for enrolling students in school at a young age have to do with economics. The working poor, families that
have a single, working parent, and families that have both parents working need to have their children in school as soon as
possible so the parents can work without having to be burdened with the expense of day-care.
On the other end of the economic scale, families that consist of parents who are professionals, and families that are
wealthy enough to be able to afford good day-care, or those that can afford the luxury of a stay-at-home parent also
wanted their children in school early. Their reasons were not economic in nature. Their reasons were generally one or
more of the following:
· They bought into the myth that getting children into structured classrooms early would somehow give
them a leg up on other children.
· They had been brainwashed by family and friends that their child seems so much brighter than other
children their age.
· There is some status in being able to say that their child is not only going to school at a very young age,
but that he is thriving in classes with older children.
Many schools had no problem admitting students into pre-kindergarten, and
even all day kindergarten, even though the
Data from several 7th grade Pre-AP Algebra classes
|The data graphed at the right is compiled
several past 7th grade classes. The horizontal
axis represents the relative age of the students
where 1 is the youngest and 17 is the oldest. I
use these numbers to indicate the situation (there
is a 17 month difference between the ages of
youngest and oldest student in the class - this is
typical). The vertical numbers represent each
students relative level of mastery without actually
giving his actual grade.
||The graph at the left shows a total of
who represent a random sampling of 7th grade
Pre-AP Algebra students who have matriculated
through the Academy in recent years. As you can
clearly see the trend indicates that the younger
students generally achieved lower levels of
mastery than their older classmates. There are a
few outliers. These are the few younger students
who achieved at levels greater than others who
were at or near their age.
Follow the link: Joy
of the Struggle