Show and Tell for Parents
Search Site: 
Parents Teachers
By Susan Darst Williams
Parental Involvement
Ages & Stages
Coaching Your Child
Discipline & Safety
Health, Nutrition & Fitness
Homework Helpers
Curriculum & Instruction
Teachers & Teaching
Other School Staff
Special Learners
School Management
Finance & Taxation
Government & Politics
Private Schools
Choice & Charters
Learning on the Go
Community Involvement
Education Heroes
Bright Ideas for Change
Site Map

Parental Involvement Lite

Parents, Kids & Books

Great Books for Kids

Character Education

Writing Tips


Wacky Protests

School Humor
Home | Purpose | Ask A Question | Subscribe | Forward | Bio | Contact | Print

Preschool        < Previous        Next >


What's Wrong With Starting School at 3 or 4?

Ask Our Neighbors, the Canadians


Q. Our state is talking about paying for preschool for all children starting at age 3, and allowing early entry to kindergarten for 4-year-olds who are ready. Doesn't that sound like a good idea?


No, it goes against the findings of research dating back to the 1960s and '70s, that structured, organized learning is counter-productive in early childhood.


This is especially true of socially-disadvantaged children. It is speculated that putting them in free day-care and preschool gives a damaging message to their parents, that their own children aren't their responsibility. That negative impression just gets worse and worse throughout the child's schooling career for low-income parents, as government employees in schools and other agencies gradually take over nutrition, emotional care, health care, and all other facets of what is supposed to be the parent's job.


Some would say it's best to keep your child out of school until age 8! They would say that the current push to add "classes" for 3-year-old's, 4-year-old's and 5-year-old's in our nation's public schools is "robbing the cradle."


For more about the dangers of this movement, see the book, Better Late Than Early, by Raymond Moore, available on It is interesting to note that research quoted in this older book is from the 1960s and '70s, but the findings are confirmed by the most up-to-date research, over and over again.


Opponents of taxpayer-provided early childhood education say that it tends to be "donated" at first, from left-wing foundations to get it in place as an "entitlement," and then funding responsibility invariably shifts to taxpayers. They say adding two or three more years to the K-12 schooling expense tab is heavily promoted by the teachers' unions as an attempt to bring more members to their unions and more revenue stream into the public schools.


Bottom line: child development experts and family advocates both love the idea of parents doing a better job rearing their children in intelligent, loving ways, but hate the idea of early entry to formalized schooling. You and other concerned citizens should be speaking out against it.


It is helpful to look at other countries that have funded "free" preschool, including England, where the "SureStart" program has been a total flop. Also note that Finland, which is often lauded as the top of the world in standardized test scores, does not even start children in school until after age 6.


An example close to home is Canada. Canada has had a horrible experience with free, universal preschool. Children from two-income families in Quebec who used the free day-care were found in a study to have much more aggression and illness, and less-developed motor-social skills.


Meanwhile, the study reported negative consequences not only among the children, but among the parents, too. They found much more hostility and inconsistent parenting among the moms and dads, with worse parental health and lower quality of parental relationships.


Most distressing of all results, the researchers reported that the children had 17 times the hostility and 3 times the anxiety of children who remained in in-home settings.


The researchers were from the University of Toronto, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and the University of British Columbia. See this report:



Homework: Additional information on this topic is available on and also see:

By Susan Darst Williams Preschool 02 2008


Preschool        < Previous        Next >
^ return to top ^
Individuals: read and share these features freely!

Publications: please contact to arrange for reprint rights to these copyrighted news stories and features.


 Links to Learn More 

 Enrichment Ideas 

 Nebraska Schooling 
 Humor Blog 
 Glimpses of God 
Copyright © 2023
Website created by Web Solutions Omaha