Why Hurry? Respecting Development and Learning

There is a lot of pressure on parents and teachers to have children ready for school. Families are inundated with a barrage of information from websites, television commercials, and well-meaning friends about buying or doing certain things so that their children will be successful. Teachers are being pushed to make sure they are instructing children, even babies, in the skills they need to be "ready" for the next step, whether it is preschool or kindergarten or reading. However, David Elkind (1987) states, no authority in the field of child psychology, pediatrics, or child psychiatry advocates the formal instruction, in any domain, of infants and young children. In fact, the weight of solid professional opinion opposes it and advocates providing young children with a rich and stimulating environment that is, at the same time, warm, loving, and supportive of the child's own learning priorities and pacing. It is within this supportive, non-pressured environment that infants and young children acquire a solid sense of security, positive self-esteem, and a long-term enthusiasm for learning.