URBANA – A University of Illinois professor is stirring havoc among early childhood education advocates with a new study that debunks the popular belief that earlier formal education is better. Furthermore, the report maintains that a narrow academic curriculum does not recognize the innate inquisitiveness of young children and ultimately fails to address the way they learn.
The report, “Lively Minds: Distinctions between academic versus intellectual goals for young children,” was written by Lilian G. Katz and focuses on the need for intellectual education – which she found was best for preschoolers – versus academic education – what schools typically offer.
Katz found that free play and basic activities encourage intellectual development while straight academics encourages better test scores, but not necessarily brighter and more curious adults.
While “formal instruction produces good test results in the short term,” she says, preschool curriculum and teaching methods that emphasize children’s interactive roles and initiative may be “not so impressive in the short run” but “yield better school achievement in the long term.”
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