Should a three year-old be getting tutored in math and reading? And can this tutoring really help give them an edge in school? Apparently the parents who have signed their tots up for Junior Kumon think so. This question is at the heart of a social media firestorm that continues to rage after a recent New York Timesarticle covered the growing trend of affluent parents sending their toddlers to Kumon in order to help them get a jump on kindergarten and perhaps the rest of their academic career. It got me thinking, are over-achieving parents (of which I fight against becoming one) pushing their kids too far too fast?
This article came out right about the time Dr. D. and I were in a heated debate about what kind of nursery school to enroll D2 in. He's just turned 18 months. I'm very keen to enroll him in Montessori, while Dr. D.'s preference is for D2 to be in a much more traditionally structured pre-school type setting. As a Montessori kid myself, I love how Montessori teaches children creativity, a love of learning and exploration and independence. As part of our interview for D2's admission, Dr. D. and I had to observe a class in action. I saw young children working very quietly at a variety of work stations. Each child was doing something different - from using building blocks to work through simple math equations to reading independently. They were polite, inquisitive and very articulate for such young children. I was in heaven. Dr. D. not so much. He worries whether there will be enough rigor and emphasis on "the fundamentals" for D2 to pass rigorous state exams and establish a disciplined approach to school that will allow him to get into a good college. He's worried that a Montessori environment will be too free wheeling for D2 and he won't learn enough. I pulled out the stops and showed him the research on the achievement levels of Montessori educated children. I even showed him a recent Wall Street Journal article on all of the successful CEOs who credited Montessori with their success as adults. He was unconvinced. I know. I know. It seems crazy we are having this discussion and D2 is not even two yet.
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