Why the Academic Panic is Wrong

The Academic Panic is the term I’ve given to the frantic ‘education’ of children younger than the age of nine, which many middle-class parents are currently involved with (swimming and drama, and extra Maths, and piano and violin and scouts and hockey and extra Reading and skating and ballet and jazz and…you get the picture).  While many loving and well-meaning adults assume that extra formal classes and early intellectualisation are good for the education and later opportunities for their children, the reality is that this is NOT the case. The more children have an adult in charge, the less they think for themselves. If you are interested in some research about this, check out this post here.

(Thanks to Cori @ Wonder in the Woods. 🙂 )

(This is officially how I help put food on the table. If you’ve found this article useful, please feel free to use the Koha button just above my blogroll. Even the smallest amount is appreciated. 🙂 )

About Karyn @ kloppenmum

kloppenmum is me, Karyn Van Der Zwet, mother of three and ex-teacher. I'm part of a revolution in parenting, with the aim to raise mature (not sophisticated) and self-assured children. I also know some stuff about adults. I have also had articles printed in The Journal for The British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (Children and Young People) and the US parenting magazine, Pathways to Family Wellness, as well I regularly write for World Moms Blog (named as one of the Forbes 100 most useful blogs for women 2012 &2013). You can follow me on facebook (kloppenmum) pinterest (Karyn at Kloppenmum) and twitter (@kloppenmum). I'm also vaguely on LinkedIn (Karyn Van Der Zwet). Thanks to Joe (Mr Hare) for taking the photo. Cheers, son: xxxx.
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16 Responses to Why the Academic Panic is Wrong

  1. Juliana says:

    Oh, Hallelujah! I am so glad to hear someone say this (or read it, anyway). Someone asked me the other day whether I was going to teach our four-year-old to read. (She’s already learned all her letters at daycare). I said – no, why would I? She’s learning it quite well in at least not as a daily “lesson” at this point, I won’t. She’s learning quite well at her daycare (where her days are very structured and adult controlled), and I’d rather give her the extra time at home to just be completely herself. We read every night and she enjoys spelling out words and signing all our names for us on birthday cards, so I don’t think she needs to be forced to do more. In the meantime, I’m going to enjoy every minute of her prancing around the house telling us she’s a pony. 🙂

    • I went to a course on Reading and Writing, and the co-ordinator said much the same thing – there is no hurry. There is a whole group of children here in New Zealand (and I imagine the western world) who stop reading at puberty because they have had so much ‘encouragement’ to read early on. They’re burnt out and reading becomes their point of rebellion. And I think people underestimate the brain power used/developed during playing. Enjoy your pony and thanks for your comment Juliana. 🙂

  2. Laura Weldon says:

    The impression most people have of parenting or educating kids has to do with overt control. But that’s a great way to stifle the gifts our children bring to the world. Researchers know this. Studies show that when parents or teachers are highly directive it diminishes creativity, innovation, comprehension, motivation, you name it. (I blather about this quite a bit in my book.) Guidance and rules are terribly important, but they don’t have to constrict the unique ways that children learn.

    • Absolutely. I also think most people completely under-estimate the time children need to play – even during those teenage years, perhaps especially during those teenage years. I do wonder how much of a ground swell it would take to get some real change in the classroom – meanwhile, we find alternatives!

  3. faemom says:

    It’s scary how many activities people put their children in. It’s like they are scared to have the kids around the house. I’m worried because next year we need to put Evan in Sunday school; he wants to do Boy Scouts; The Husband wants to put Evan in martial arts. And I wonder if that is too much.

    • I find it scary how many activities some kids do, too. There is no reason you couldn’t start Evan with those activities and if it doesn’t work out, or he becomes really tired and ratty, you could stop them. Waiting another few years might be OK too. It is difficult when there are so many cool things that children could be doing. The Owl (nearly six) is incredibly envious of the nine year old Hare doing more activities this year.

  4. I know a pair of parents who fit that description. I bite my tongue and can’t help thinking, “poor kid.”

    • Sadly, there are plenty of them about. They mean so well, and work so hard at being parents – perhaps not understanding that more time spent in the mud or up trees is what kids (especially the young ones) really need to expand their brains…sigh.

  5. Vanda Symon says:

    Read a scary article in the weekend paper about parents hiring tutors in maths and reading for their pre-schoolers, and coaching them for IQ testing so they could get into the ‘right’ pre-schools in America. It made me want to cry for the wee darlings. What’s wrong with the sandpit?!!!

    • Hellooo there Vanda,
      That is a scary idea. A friend of mine in Germany told me the same thing is happening there. Mind you, I also cringe when I hear from some parents of older children who are ‘encouraged’ to try every activity they can, but are no longer interested in play-dates at the age of seven or eight because they’re already losing the ability to socialise. 😉 Great to hear from you…now stop procrastinating and get that m/s finished! 🙂

  6. adhdwith3 says:

    I’m sure you’ve heard of the book that just came out Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother–about the ultra involved Chinese style of parenting–it was very interesting

    We try to be pretty laid back about that stuff around here although by boys love scouts. It’s been great for teaching them leadership.

    • I have heard of the book. I think Amy Chua was mentioned on about half of the blogs I read! I think people seriously underestimate the amount of brain power and learning involved in playing. We looked at scouts too, and have friends that rave about it, but wanted to keep the amount of activities down to a few at a time. I can imagine it would be good for teaching leadership.

  7. Pipi says:

    Whoaa, Karyn, I just read the same thing yesterday here!

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