There are those days, when, after a good night’s sleep, you emerge, bleary-eyed from under a thick warm duvet, switch on the radio and wonder if you aren’t still draeming.
Such was the case this morning. I « navigated » my way into the kitchen just after seven, to hear the following news item
Kids to be sent to school as young as two years old.
This item was given headline status , presumably to incite listeners to loudly voice consternation, howl indignation or even joyously shout their approval – all in the hope that the noise would be enough to cover the following items – massive increases for local rates in 2015 and the lowering of the interest rate on National Savings accounts from 2.25% to 1.75%.
As I warm my coffee in the microwave and wait for my toast to pop up, I am still somewhat shocked, perplexed and concerned about kids staring school at the age of two years.
I have to say, that kids in start their official and compulsory éducation at the age of six, at the local primary school. However, most children attend nursery school from the age of three. The latter institution is free but not mandatory.
In the hour that followed, journalists question a panel of parents, childminders, educational specialists and teachers and …. Well everyone seems to agree that it is a brilliant idea.
Kids will learn social skills far earlier, especially those from poorer backgrounds, where the families cannot afford a childminder and the mother is forced to stay at home to look after the children. Sling ‘em into school on their second birthday, and mum can find work or go back to work.
There are some nursery schools that already accept two-year-olds in special reception classes, providing of course that they are « clean » i.e. the kids have fully developped toilet skills. Parents with kids already in such reception classes, had nothing but praise, saying that their kids were coming on leaps and bounds – come the official start of school at the age of six, they reckoned that their kids would already be able to jump a year.
Oh dear, where does (or should) éducation start. Good luck to you, if you find a school that will take your kids from two years upwards, that’s a whole year of money saved from paying the childminder. However does this mean that kids will be subject to formal évaluations, streaming and « judgement » from the age of two. Remember, this is France, where kids who are considered as flagging or flunking, can be forced to repeat and entire school year . Could you do this to a two year-old ? How do you assess a two year –old kid ? Who tells the parents that at the tender age of 2, their kid is a failure and on what criteria ????
Now don’t laugh, but I know parents, whose kids have « flunked » nursery school. Four and five year-olds forced to repeat a year because they are deemed to lack the necessary skills or maturity to go to primary school. I hear stories of kids at nursery school who are already getting outside coaching in French and maths.
Will there come a day, when prégnant mums can go to school and have their future offspring « educated ».
So, French éducation always gets my hackles up. My daughter went to th loca council creche from three months to three years old. She was well looked after and really happy. The day that we gave her up to the clutches of the French éducation system, the smile disappeared from her face as the teacher proceeded tp »socialse » our daughter and teach her « the rules of life in a group » - which the French call « les règles de la vie en collectivité » or « comment vivre en collectivité » - how to live in a group. This can be useful, but its quite a heavy concept for a three year old girl and her highly individualist English dad.