Every Child Deserves a Developmentally Appropriate Education

Yesterday while listening to the radio a commercial for a local school came on the air, this was there selling point:

"Our students read at 3 years old!"

Excuse me while I tear my hair out. Setting aside the fact that there is no research or evidence to show that early reading has any kind of tie to academic success, is this really what we want for our children? There was a time when early education was about learning to play, about exploring one's environment, about painting, and singing, and growing socially and emotionally. When did we decide that this kind of learning wasn't important anymore? When did we decide that pushing strict academics on younger and younger children was the most important thing? And in this world of children who are lost, who are bullied or bullies, who are lonely, who are struggling, can we really say that we are better for it?

I think this story told to me by a friend, using her words, sums things up nicely:

"I have a lot of friends that have kids in preschool and kindergarten and their biggest focus is their kid's knowing all their letters and sounds and their ability to read at an early age. They talk as if a kid isn't reading by kindergarten they're behind! I went to (_____) School when I was little. That was where I learned I was dumb. It took 'til I was in high school to realize I wasn't. I worked hard and did great. It was hard to be so young and feel like everyone else was so much better than me.
That's one thing about this system that is so bad. These kids that are just as smart as everyone else go through school thinking they're dumb because they couldn't read well in kindergarten and first grade.
Because I was given the title "not as smart" I really did stop trying because I felt like I couldn't do it anyway. I don't exactly know what changed in me. I do know there were a number of teachers I had in high school that knew better and expected more of me. I'm sure they played a big part. I actually graduated on the honor roll. It starts young. If only people knew how important it is to build a kid up in those early years. It effects EVERYTHING!!!"
Sample...The frustrating thing: We can do both!! We can teach necessary academic skills and do it at the appropriate level for each child and in the appropriate way. Children are only young once and deserve a childhood. They deserve the chance to learn through the guidance of caring adults that value the importance of early childhood education and value the proven developmental techniques of play, scaffolding, and discovery.