In mid-October The Gesell Institute of Human Development released the results of their three-year national study on the impact of the current academic philosophy in American schools. The widely-held belief that “earlier is better” in academic instruction and that the twin goals of narrowing the achievement gap between the United States and other countries and better developmental outcomes for students would follow were not supported by the study. Rather, preschoolers now have higher expulsion rates than older children and social skills, such as problem solving, are underdeveloped in students.
Academic over expectation – that which is inappropriate for their developmental stage – may actually be harming children. Loss of recess and other social and/or creative time for the purpose of increased classroom work appears to have had a negative impact on the development of peer relationships and the related skills crucial for success later in life. According to the researchers, quality early education programs should emphasize exploration and social interaction and include only the academic components that are age-appropriate.