I am reading Smart Moves, by Carla Hannaford and loving it. I think that there is so much to learn and apply when it comes to how children learn and what we want to teach them.
I am quite sure that Waldorf schools are onto a good thing when they don’t rush reading and generally have a take it slow appraoch with introducing technology and ‘scientific thinking’. I do not see the benefit in rushing children to know their numbers and letters – or generally pushing kids to perform academic skills. I am inclined to believe that it is a misplaced belief of this being for the good of the child. Of course if every child is reading in grade one, it could be hard for my child if he were not. He might be made to feel stupid or inferior in some way. But that is still not enough of a convincing reason to prssure him to be reading and writing and doing math when he is younger than 7-8. I see reading, writing and math as the culmination of years of having developed the foundations – essentally perception. Without an understanding of how objects related to one another and how you relate to objects around you in space – reading and writing are going to be that much more difficult. Behind, in front, left, right, under, over, etc are the foundations for being able to decode written language. And the strongest way to lay the foundation for these perceptions is through movement. Children first learn kinesthetically (through movement) and then through 3 dimentions (ie blocks/toys), and then in 2 dimensions (on paper).
Anyway, many books have been written on this and I am defintily not the first to choose to stay away from ‘acamdic’ material in the first years. It makes sense to me and fits with my values and seems to be more in line with the ideal environment for little children to be growing and learning in.