Schooling at the Age of 3 is a Waste of Time

Essay by MeIAm April 2004

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A child at age 3 is just learning how to walk up and down stairs, can barely control their bladder or feed themselves properly. Would it make sense to put this child in school? Compulsory attendance or mandatory kindergarten at the age of 3 is not the way to improve academic excellence. In fact, it may harm the development of young children to force them into the school system at a young age. This essay will prove that formal schooling at the early age of 3 will not only fail at enhancing child development, but will also violate a parents right to parent their child, cost huge amounts of money to taxpayers, and will actually be a waste of time for everyone later on, including the toddler.

Children under 5 need parenting, not schooling. This point in the adolescents life is a critical stage in the human development process, and studies have shown that time spent with a parent is the very best way to promote this growth, not early school attendance like many would think.

Also, if one made compulsory schooling start at the age of 3, then one is infringing on a parents right to have a role in their young one's life. The one raising him or her should be the one there at such a young age to teach them what they feel is important. After all, is it not easier to believe that a parent knows what is best for their child more so than what the government thinks is best for all children? The one taking care of him or her more then anyone knows when their little one is physically and mentally capable and ready for such a drastic change like school, and the reality is most 3 year olds are neither.

Many also overlook the costs that would be associated with this kind of change. Expanding the number of children required to attend school increases education costs and therefore may mean an increase in taxes. Such an instant expansion of the student population requires the hiring of more teachers, purchasing of more equipment, and finding the area and then the building of the facilities, which all cost money. A program in the United States, called 'Head Start', an early childhood program, is an example to show how much money this endeavor will actually cost. Since 1965, U.S taxpayers have spent well over 30 billion on the program. All these costs are necessary if one would want to lower the compulsory school age, and many aren't willing to give up all that money.

The theory is that lowering the compulsory school age will ensure children enter kindergarten or the first grade ready to learn. Having mastered basic pre-reading and pre-math skills, these children will have less difficulty becoming literate and numerate in elementary school. They will continue to maintain early gains, achieve at grade level, and graduate. However, this theory is quite false. On average, the graduates of Head Start knew only 1 or 2 letters of the alphabet. Furthermore, the gains in cognitive abilities that were made through these programs tended to fade away by the 2nd grade. At that point, the abilities of Head Start participants were indistinguishable from their non-participating peers. In other words, a waste of time. Even the co-founder of the program stated 22 years after its creation that early schooling does not reduce school failure, lower dropout rates or higher test scores, all the things the program set out and was expected to do. Similar conclusions were made with the results of the recent Program for International Student Assessment (PISA), and the Third International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS). It was found that students who started early did not do consistently better than their peers who started later.

Basically, anyone and everyone can now draw the conclusion that compulsory schooling at 3 does not enhance child development, but instead takes over parents' rights, and costs tax payers immense amounts of money. And for what? A waste of everyone's time and money and in the end, it produces hollow and phony results. Rushing children into formal education too soon will exact a heavy toll on the development of those children and weaken the role of family in their lives. One should encourage excellence and responsibility in parenting and enter them in school when they will be able to succeed so that children will develop emotionally and socially, will achieve academically, and will be better able to handle the challenges of adulthood when they mature.