Right now, early childhood education is all about developing a child’s cognitive skills. But what if we changed the focus to fostering creativity and imagination instead? What if we encouraged children to be explorers and experimenters, instead of drilling them in academic concepts? Wouldn’t that make for a more interesting, fulfilling and fun-filled world?
Opportunity for All
So last month the Government published a paper called Opportunity for All, which set out a plan to make sure every child can reach the full height of their potential.
The Department for Education immediately issued a statement saying literacy and numeracy aims will be ‘counterproductive’
Geoff Barton, the general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL) told head teachers that the White Paper risks narrowing the primary school curriculum: “Simply setting higher targets for literacy and numeracy, without a plan, a philosophy, without investment, will achieve little.”
The white paper creates a target of 90 percent of primary children achieving the expected standard in reading, writing and maths by 2030.
My question is not around delivery of this, or funding, but about expectations of whom? Are we still looking at the emotional and soulful needed of the child, setting exciting adventures which inspire them—or crushing expectations that bear no relation to the developing child?
As a country we are bombarded with headlines like “Government directs £65m catch up funds to schools” and “Covid: Keep testing free to avoid exam disruption, heads tell Government.”
I think the focus in education has become so narrow, so fixated on testing English and Maths, policy makers have utterly forgotten that children are little people there to be inspired and enabled, not filled and measured.
A call for more nature!
Mr Barton used a recent speech to call for a “curriculum for childhood”. Following the ASCL’s Blueprint for a Fairer Education System (September 21) which sets out plans for a slimmed down national curriculum that would be focused on a relatively small number of carefully sequenced key concepts and would leave time and space for schools to develop their own local curricula.
‘The government has lost its definition of what education is for’
“Those special early years, our rich and joyful primary education, a secondary Key Stage 3 that builds confident knowledge – none of this should be a long and tedious runway leading to distant exams.
We need instead a curriculum for childhood, a sense of what our young people at various ages need to know, need to be able to do, need to have experienced, especially in such uncharted times.”
As a Waldorf Family we couldn’t agree more. I wish all children could experience the freedom and space to become themselves before the focus shifts to the classroom. I wish that all children could run and jump and climb trees, and for schools everywhere to see how important that is in early childhood education.
We are faced with a rapidly changing world and we should try to help equip our young people to engage and evolve.
Life long learning
Waldorf Family creates learning resources to inspire early childhood education rooted in nature. Our tools help child led and immersive learners discover patterns, get curious about natural science and feel secure in natural rhythms. Because we cannot create a better world without changing our patterns of thinking, and that starts with children.
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