BRIGHT CHILDREN SHOULD START SCHOOL AT SIX, SAYS AN ACADEMIC. INTELLIGENT CHILDREN SUFFER MOST FROM BEING IN AN ACADEMIC CURRICULUM AND PUSHED IN AN UNBALANCED WAY.
London, May 2012 - Formal schooling should be delayed by at least 12 months because an over-emphasis on the three-Rs at an early age can cause significant long-term damage to bright children, according to a leading academic.
Pupils should not be subjected to full classroom tuition until the age of six to off-set the effects of premature “adultification”, Dr Richard House, a senior lecturer at Roehampton University’s Research Centre for Therapeutic Education, said.
“Gifted pupils from relatively affluent backgrounds suffered the most from being pushed ‘too far, too fast’.”
He quoted a major US study – carried out over eight decades – that showed children’s “run-away intellect” actually benefited from being slowed down in the early years, allowing them to develop naturally.
Many bright children can grow up in an “intellectually unbalanced way”, suffering lifelong negative health effects and even premature death, after being pushed into formal schooling too quickly, he said.
Most British schoolchildren already start classes earlier than their peers in many other European nations. Children are normally expected to be in lessons by five, although most are enrolled in reception classes aged four.
Dr House, who will present his findings at a major conference in central London this month, called on the Government to launch an independent inquiry into England’s school starting age.
He said: “The conventional wisdom is that naturally intelligent children should have their intellect fed and stimulated at a young age, so they are not held back.
“Yet these new empirical findings strongly suggest that exactly the opposite may well be the case, and that young children’s run-away intellect actually needs to be slowed down in the early years if they are not to risk growing up in an intellectually unbalanced way, with possible life-long negative health effects.”
For more, see telegraph.co.uk.