Saturday, December 10, 2005

Nursery or Home-Based Academic Advantage

Following the recent controversy over the claim that nursery care contributes to anti-social behaviour and emotional damage, the pendulum predictably sways the other way with news from the Guardian that children in day care are likely to benefit from academic advantage.

It's all so confusing. How can this latest conclusion possibly tally with research which shows that home educated children also thrive and often excel in the academic department? From Paula Rothermel, University of Durham, "the results show that 64% of the home-educated Reception aged children scored over 75% on their PIPS Baseline Assessments as opposed to 5.1% of children nationally".

Putting aside any possible attempt to explain the above apparent contradiction, the best argument must remain: respect and facilitate the learning choices of the child, since by so-doing, we maximise the opportunity for active thought, - the essential ingredient for optimal learning.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

They might call this a 'comprehensive' piece of research but I think, from what I have read, that it looks like a flawed piece of research - Nowhere near as convincing as the Penelope Leach research.

Firstly, the university study looked at 3000 children (who experienced many different things) for seven years - not a large enough number, for a long enough time, or with consistent enough factors. For instance, who is to judge what the 'quality' nursery care was? Apparently it was only those in 'quality' care who were 'ahead' of other children who had been at home. The article doesn't tell us what 'ahead' meant. If it meant knowing how to line up in a classroom environmnet and how to behave in an institution than it would have been a tragedy if they hadn't been 'better' at this.

It seemed, too, that the children in part time nurseries performed exactly the same as those in full time nurseries. Obviously, a little bit of 'schooling' each day taught them as much about behaviour in an institution...

"The more antisocial children had mostly attended local authority and private day nurseries where substantial numbers attended from infancy onwards." The effects on behaviour were very unclear.

But, of course, this research was: 'The latest wave of research from the Effective Provision of Pre-School Education (Eppe) project (who) found that this early advantage "has not washed out" by the age of seven."'

Somewhat biaised perhaps.

clare said...

I also feel uncomfortable with the emphasis being placed on being 'ahead academically'. I'd rather ignore all research about what makes children cleverer as I believe very strongly that the more we interfere with our children's development, the more problems we store up for them later on. So what if they get good GCSE's because they were in daycare - they'll probably be so sick of hothouse education by A-Level age that they'll fail their A-levels and end up hating formal education, take gap years that end up being slobbing-about years and become individuals that don't have much to offer society at all! Going off on a bit of a tangent there, but what I'm trying to say is that I expect that children do *best* when they're left to develop their personalities, identities and learning without interference from well-meaning adults - as long as they are being brought up in a secure and loving environment where they can blossom without hindrance.

Clare