Too much too young

By Gabrielle Pickard
0 CommentsPrint E-mail, November 30, 2009
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The age that children should officially start school, has been under scrutiny recently in the UK, resulting in parents across the country deliberating whether sooner is better than later or vice versa. Whilst the Labour government want to see children start school a year earlier, at four, the first "wholesale" review of primary education constructed in Britain for 40 years, has recommended the UK conforms to the international educational practice of children starting formal lessons at six.

The Cambridge University-led report concluded their apparently "comprehensive" study of primary education with devastating criticism of the current system. But the vital issue which has been ignored in the vast and scathing jibes at the UK's primary learning structure that followed the report, is that by giving children "greater freedom" and slackening the present system which is "even narrower than that of the Victorian elementary schools", parents face the dilemma and anguish of what to do with their children until they are six.

In Spain, the compulsory age children must attend school is six but it is commonly practiced that youngsters start school in the autumn they turn three. This "freedom" leaves many parents undecided of whether to send their children to school at three, so that they may start mixing, making friends and learning, or letting them stay at home and giving them more of a "childhood".

Children normally start school at 3 in Spain.

I am a parent currently experiencing such torment. Having lived in Spain off and on for over five years, my husband and I decided to send our son Frankie, who turned three this September, to the local state school. Our decision was not easily made. Eventually we decided that it was better Frankie started mixing with local children and started to learn the language. Eight weeks since the school term began we are unsure whether we made the right choice. If it was compulsory that Frankie attended school at three I think it would be easier for parents. Having to make a choice that could potentially rob your child of their childhood, it leaves parents with a huge responsibility. We also had to fork out over 120 euros on text books for the year, in which pupils have to complete assignments and receive subsequent grades. Because it is commonly practiced that children start school at three, unlike Britain, nurseries and pre-school centers offering part-time attendance for youngsters are few and far between in Spain, making attending full-time school the only real option if you want your child to mix.

Is it all too formal for young shoulders to bare?

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