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"I believe that education is the civil rights issue of our generation." – U.S. Secretary Arne Duncan, October 9, 2009

Glorious Mud-Pies: How Is Early Education Impacting Childhood?

A recent conversation with a family friend about their daughter’s education sparked my concern over early education. Their daughter, only 7 years old, is already learning Spanish. Qué?! I didn’t learn a word of Spanish until high school, and when I was that age writing a complete sentence was my challenge. Needless to say, this information took me by surprise. I thought, “What is this world coming to? What is happening to childhood?”

These questions ran through my mind once again after reading the article Bill Passed to Make Kindergarten Mandatory for 5-Year-Olds . Due to the passing of this bill, all 5-year-olds in New York City will be required to attend kindergarten.

This is certainly a good thing, in my opinion. It means that no 5-year-old can be denied enrollment into kindergarten, which sometimes occurs due to overcrowding in schools. I think that it is great that some responsibility is being taken to ensure that children start their education on time and actually go through kindergarten. The skills obtained during the first year in school set a foundation down for future learning. The kindergarten experience also gives children the opportunity to adapt to the routine of a school environment, working, sharing, and interacting with other children.

The resurfacing of my concern about the loss of childhood, after having read this article, may seem over dramatic or even irrelevant. However, 5-year-olds attending school is not what’s troubling–it’s what’s in store for young children years from now. Will preschool someday be mandatory for all children? Will three-year-olds reading chapter books become a common sight? Although that may be impressive, there is something unsettling about it. I am torn on the subject of early education. I think early education is important to children’s development and performance in school, but I also think it’s important that kids enjoy their childhood. Mud-pies and wild running children are sights I hope to see for the rest of my life.

So here comes the big question: how soon is too soon and how much is too much for children’s early education?

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