Parents assume that pushing academic learning earlier is better for children - stimulating their minds - and certainly does no harm. But what if it does? There's extensive research showing that young children learn best through play and there are no studies showing that ACADEMIC preschool results in more successful students. Preschool itself certainly does - because children learn independence, conflict resolution, group participation and more.
What's the harm?
Early "instruction" in writing could lead to more children having trouble learning to write neatly (print or cursive). Counter-intuitive, but a group of elementary school teachers shared their frustration with me. See - when preschool children play with crayons, they hold the crayons however they like and they scribble. But when they make a letter, they're forcing their hands into a repetitive motion. Some preschool teachers know how to teach the appropriate grip and some preschool hands have the fine motor skill to do it.
But the other children often develop an awkward way of holding their crayons/pencils/markers. And that grip becomes a habit that needs to be broken. Breaking a habit is a lot harder than learning from scratch.
In kindergarten - at age 5 or so - the fine motor skills are there and the teachers are skilled in developing proper grip. Without a proper grip, it's hard, but not impossible, to write neatly. And there's really no rush - learning to write well in kindergarten and into first grade will serve our children well.
Scribbling and playing with writing is great fun. Learning to write letters is more exacting. What do you think - should they be writing letters in pre-school? Or should we wait for kindergarten to teach kids to write?