Why Your Child Doesn’t Need Preschool (No Matter What the President Said)

Apparently the president pushed universal preschool in his State of the Union speech the other night. Aside from the fact that we as a nation can’t afford it, most kids don’t need it. In fact, studies have shown that kids who go to preschool often burn out on school by second to third grade. There’s just a small group of kids who need it, and your child isn’t one of them.

How do I know this? Because you’re reading this right now. The kids who actually need preschool have parents who have no interest in educating their children or even raising them properly. Check out this experience of a Lucianne.com commenter with the government preschool program Head Start:

I worked for Oakland Public Schools in 1965…Headstart was cranking up then. And..one focus of Headstart at that time (I witnessed it) was to teach the kids to sit around a table to eat their orange slices and dry cereal rather than grabbing their food and running to a corner of the room to eat it like animals.

It’s very sad that there are children like that, children who would be better off raised by wolves than by the parents they have. But that doesn’t mean all children need preschool just because a small percentage of them have lousy parents.

Just the other day, my daughter-in-law posted an adorable video on Facebook of a “conversation” she had with her 3-month-old baby, our grandson. You see his happy little face, cooing and giggling, while in the background you hear her immediate responses to him.

I’m sure you’ve talked like this with your kids. It’s what all good parents do: they respond to their children and meet their needs. This is the kind of environment kids need in order to develop properly. They don’t need preschool unless their parents’ parenting ability is non-existent.

So why is the president pushing universal preschool? I think we know why, but let’s let another famous leader tell us:

Give me four years to teach the children and the seed I have sown will never be uprooted. Vladimir Lenin

When Kids Use the Internet for Research

When I was in college, one of the so-called advantages of the Greek (fraternity/sorority) system was that its members had access to the completed tests and essays of past members. Thus they could memorize test answers instead of learning what was presented in class, and re-type the essays of others instead of writing their own.

This saved those students all sorts of work; we who were not “Greek” felt it was an unfair advantage. But the bottom line was that these students didn’t learn anything because they didn’t have to read the assigned books, nor did they learn via the process of assembling information and giving it back to their professors in the form of essays.

I imagine that frat-house filing cabinets are collecting dust now that college students have access to the Internet. There are sites where they can go to find pre-written, high-graded essays that they can pass off as their own, thanks to the cut-and-paste function.

And for the times when they actually have to do their own research and writing, there are sites like Wikipedia. Savvy teachers probably check Wikipedia’s take on the assigned topic before they correct the essays so that they can tell who’s been playing cut-and-paste there. But this doesn’t solve the problem, which is that kids are wasting their time and not learning anything, at least not much that’s accurate.

Teachers will tell you that this also occurs in middle and high schools. One solution would be to require kids to write their essays while in the school library or classroom, using the books and materials available there, with no Internet access.

For homeschoolers, this is much simpler. We can supervise our kids more easily than a teacher can keep tabs on thirty kids. By requiring our kids to use only printed matter for research, they’ll learn the material and develop writing skills in the process, because we’ve removed the temptation of the Internet.

But printed matter can be dated, and we’ve become accustomed to the immediacy of the Internet. Isn’t there some way to take advantage of that immediacy?

The good news is that there is. By requiring our kids to use primary sources and reputable secondary sources, we can avoid the problems that occur when kids are allowed to use Wikipedia and other sites that have sometimes proven to be inaccurate.

On the Internet, primary sources are sites where the information is first generated. For example, for the activities of our president, kids can visit www.whitehouse.gov. Further government info can be found at www.usa.gov. For government statistics on employment and information on the labor market, go to www.bls.gov.

Secondary sources are trusted entities that access primary sources. A large city newspaper like The New York Times or the Chicago Tribune is considered a secondary source. Newspapers are not as trusted as they once were; recent cases of lying reporters have tarnished their image, and budget cuts have forced them to reduce the number of editors who check on the sources used by reporters. Still, quoting a large newspaper should be considered fairly accurate, and certainly much better than Wikipedia, where anyone can post information or change what’s there.

This is not to say that Wikipedia is not useful. I allowed my teen daughter to use it as a jumping-off point, as it gave her a quick briefing on a topic. But she was then required to back up what she found with research from trustworthy sources.

For younger children and preteens, there’s a wonderful website that teaches children to be careful about believing information they find on the Internet. It’s called “All About Explorers,” and it’s more than what it first appears to be.

The site was cleverly designed by a group of teachers. It includes pages about several famous explorers, including Christopher Columbus. Here’s an excerpt from the page about him:

Columbus knew he had to make this idea of sailing, using a western route, more popular. So, he produced and appeared on infomercials which aired four times daily. Finally, the King and Queen of Spain called his toll-free number and agreed to help Columbus.

Note that this is the third paragraph of the essay. The first two paragraphs did not include such obviously erroneous information. You’ll be able to tell very quickly if your child read the entire page or not by his reaction (or lack of one) to that third paragraph. Meanwhile, the child who merely lifted the essay from the site for pasting into their own essay is in for a surprise!

Also note that there’s a link at the bottom of the page which will lead your child to accurate information about the explorer in question (the teachers have already checked that information), plus printable activity pages and other features to aid in learning.

The All About Explorers site also includes a page with lesson plans for teaching kids about Internet research. This site is a great tool for busy homeschooling parents, and it will help children understand why they shouldn’t believe something just because they read it on a website. Once they understand that, their future research will be more accurate, and they’ll not only learn more, but be well-prepared for the writing involved if they go to college.

Eek! Kids are Getting Fat and Dumb!

We must take away summer vacation because it’s making kids stupid and obese!

That’s the battle cry from Peter Orszag, who decrees in this article that:

Kids lose some of what they learned during the school year over the summer.

Kids get bigger over the summer.

Therefore, summer vacation is bad.

His recommendations?

Make the school year longer (a euphemism for getting rid of summer vacation).

Put low-income kids into six-week long summer school sessions.

Put low-income kids into summer reading programs.

At the end of the article, he suggests that one or more of his solutions be implemented via an act of Congress. Sigh.

This is so silly. America’s public schools are graduating increasing numbers of kids who can’t read or do math; when something isn’t working, why on earth would we want MORE of it?

As for kids getting bigger, it’s true that some parents let their kids sit inside and watch movies, play videogames and text their friends instead of sending them out to play for fresh air and exercise. A bad idea, for sure, but it’s not up to the government to take over those kids’ lives. Besides, there’s another reason some kids get larger over the summer. Remember when you were a kid starting back to school after summer vacation and you noticed that some of your classmates had grown noticeably bigger and taller? They’d had a growth spurt. That’s what kids do (unless they’re sickly); they grow. One has to wonder, do these do-gooders like Orszag even have kids?

Remarks coming from Orszag and his ilk these days aren’t really about kids’ well-being anyways; it’s about control, government control of our children. We need to shoot down their arguments, including their assumption that kids learn more during the school year and lose at least a third of what they learned over the summer.

Kids don’t lose what they’ve learned unless it was something they were forced to learn that they merely memorized and forgot once it was no longer needed (i.e. school). Here’s how we know this:

How many kids forget how to ride a bike?

How many kids forget the lyrics to their favorite songs?

How many kids forget how to play their favorite video games?

We learn what we’re interested in, what’s useful to us and what we find irresistible. Public education rarely offers such things to kids, Increasingly, today’s kids are faced with more indoctrination than instruction; the instruction they do get is apparently not working for a lot of kids. Masking these issues by blaming summer vacation is a cop-out

If the do-gooders really wanted to know what works for kids, they’d study homeschoolers. The success of homeschooling is well-documented. Homeschooling parents will tell them that their kids are learning all the time, even during summer vacation. And when homeschooled kids do forget something they learned (usually something their parents expected them to study, as opposed to something they wanted to learn), they pick it up again pretty quickly when they go back to their studies. But as long as they’re getting plenty of time and opportunity to learn at their own pace and to pursue their own interests in addition to the studies their parents require of them, they don’t lose much of what they’ve learned. (I know this from observing my own homeschooled four.)

But the do-gooders will never study homeschooling. Why? Because most homeschooling parents’ goals for their children are about learning, not control. And these days, sadly, our government seems primarily bent on control.


Self-Control Has Long-Lasting Benefits

Spend some time in a store or a park and you’ll soon see that many parents neglect to teach their kids to have self-control.

I’m talking kids screaming and having tantrums while their parents studiously ignore them. Then there are those parents who respond by having their own scream fest. How’s the child going to learn self-control when the parent doesn’t have any?

Now a new study has shown that kids with poor self-control skills suffer for it in adulthood with higher levels of “adult health problems, such as sexually transmitted diseases, gum disease, high cholesterol, high blood pressure and excess weight.”

Another study done among fraternal twins in the United Kingdom showed that the twin with poorer self-control at age 5 will grow up to be “more likely to start smoking, to earn bad grades in school and to show antisocial behaviors at age 12.”

One interesting comment from the article also caught my eye:

Dr. Belsky said that research shows infants and kids who develop secure attachments to parents and caregivers learn early on “my actions have consequences, and I can manage and regulate those reactions,” which is key to developing self-control.

And where are kids most likely to develop those secure attachments? In the home!  🙂