Wednesday, July 13, 2005

#173 - Preschool Academia

I sure don't want to get into a flame war with a company that seems sincere in its desire to educate your child, so long as you hand copious amounts of your dollars over to them in return. Still, it's difficult to stand by and watch a company whose name, which for copyright infringement purposes I shall only say can be found in the word representing the state of PennSylvania, is fast becoming synonymous (in my own self-important opinion, of course) with evil. There are others, of course, who have an equal interest in your child's demographic, by which I mean money, but the focus here is on PennSylvania.

Worse yet are parents who are more and more becoming entrapped by some perceived need to have their children become super-scholars barely after most of them have mastered the ability to properly utilize your porcelain plumbing. And I do mean barely.

The idea, it appears, is that if your four year old cannot already spell his or her name, identify all his or her colors and letters - in short, everything that at least 29% of your elected officials can do - then that child is forever doomed to be a poor performer in school and, by extension, life. At least, that seems to be the message being forwarded by untold numbers of equally unidentifiable researchers, according to an article in the Wall Street Journal.

Now, I've been a parent for a few (*cough*) years, and I've had my share of reasons to worry about my kids. I worry that my Woodyettes haven't yet mastered bicycling skills, for example. It's my own fault; every time I think about teaching them, it's too hot outside, or I have a work assignment that requires my attention that night (so long as it doesn't interfere with my CSI watching, that is). But they've started to learn finally, and they'll get the hang of it when they (and Daddy) are good and ready.

That said, the idea that a four year old's lack of scissor skills can panic any parent into throwing money after PennSylvania's program is enough to make me laugh until my partial plate drops into my lap.

At the age of four, my Doodle Woodyette's primary scissor skills consisted pretty much of cutting any available piece of paper into as many small pieces as possible, then scattering them all over the floor that Daddy just vacuumed. In fact, she still has those skills, but now she's much more precise in her ability to cut. If that should have been enough to panic me into enrolling with some over-priced tutoring service, then I guess my Daddy skills are also just shy of the mark.

I remember watching the movie Baby Boom many years ago and wondering whether this idea of having a child excel before they can even walk would be just another fad. Sadly, the answer appears to be a resounding "NO." No longer is it acceptable, apparently, to just let a child be a child anymore. I wait for the inevitable day when some moonbat legislator - at the equally inevitable behest of the professional educators unions - will float a bill designed to label any parent who does not enroll their child in mandatory pre-school as an abusive parent. It is no longer much of a stretch.

Money quote:
"We don't want to supplant childhood," which is why the company doesn't accept 3-year-olds, says Richard Bavaria, Sylvan's chief academic officer.

My homeschooling bias is clear, in this case. Mrs. Woody and I - not the state, and certainly not any professional educator - determine how best to educate and prepare our children for life. And, when the chips are down, it really becomes the Woodyettes, and not Mom or Dad, who truly determine whether or not they are ready to learn what we may be ready to teach.

It's a terrific partnership. I highly recommend it to PennSylvania and its customers.

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