Studies show that insistence on academic achievement in a child’s preschool years does produce early results in reading, writing and math skills. However, not only does academic achievement equalize among children by the end of 4th grade, social and emotional skills are largely absent, causing stress and unhappiness in the lives of the children.
It’s easy to think that if children spend hours outside or otherwise engaged in play instead of spending time learning ABC’s and 123’s, that they aren’t learning or are somehow wasting time that could be spent “learning”. The reality is, children are learning valuable physical and social skills when they are engaged in play. These skills will help them with academic achievement when the time is right for it. Sitting at a table and doing worksheets has the illusion of real academic learning, but it is damaging to a child in so many ways. It’s not easy to change the mindset of early childhood academic achievement; it takes a lot of trust in your child that academic learning will happen later. If you understand that the child is building a strong sense of self and a strong emotional foundation for later learning, it’s easier to reframe your ideas of what a successful preschool environment looks like.