October 26, 2021

School starting age: the evidence

In the Delivering Better Public Services supporting vulnerable children brochure there are some disturbing things afoot.The Ministries of Social Development, Education, and Health are working together, alongside the Police and the Social Sector Forum, on three results that will support vulnerable children.These results are:Result 2: Early childhood education: In 2016, 98 per cent of children starting school will have participated in quality early childhood education.

Result 3:
Immunisation
: Increase infant immunisation rates so that 95 per cent of eight month olds are fully immunised by December 2014 and this is maintained until 30 June 2017.
Rheumatic fever: Reduce the incidence of rheumatic fever by two thirds to 1.4 cases per 100,000 people by June 2017.

Result 4: Assaults on children: By 2017, we aim to halt the rise in children experiencing physical abuse and reduce current numbers by five per cent.

These are very disturbing figures.

Please read the news article below on the benefits of starting formal education later rather than earlier as our Government wants.
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School starting age: the evidence

Earlier this month (Sept 2013) the “Too Much, Too Soon” campaign made headlines with a letter calling for a change to the start age for formal learning in schools. Here, one of the signatories, Cambridge researcher David Whitebread, from the Faculty of Education, explains why children may need more time to develop before their formal education begins in earnest.

In the interests of children’s academic achievements and their emotional well-being, the UK government should take this evidence seriously

David Whitebread

In England children now start formal schooling, and the formal teaching of literacy and numeracy at the age of four.  A recent letter signed by around 130 early childhood education experts, including myself, published in the Daily Telegraph  (11 Sept 2013) advocated an extension of informal, play-based pre-school provision and a delay to the start of formal ‘schooling’ in England from the current effective start until the age of seven (in line with a number of other European countries who currently have higher levels of academic achievement and child well-being).

This is a brief review of the relevant research evidence which overwhelmingly supports a later start to formal education. This evidence relates to the contribution of playful experiences to children’s development as learners, and the consequences of starting formal learning at the age of four to five years of age

There are several strands of evidence which all point towards the importance of play in young children’s development, and the value of an extended period of playful learning before the start of formal schooling. These arise from anthropological, psychological, neuroscientific and educational studies.  Anthropological studies of children’s play in extant hunter-gatherer societies, and evolutionary psychology studies of play in the young of other mammalian species, have identified play as an adaptation which evolved in early human social groups. It enabled humans to become powerful learners and problem-solvers. Neuroscientific studies have shown that playful activity leads to synaptic growth, particularly in the frontal cortex, the part of the brain responsible for all the uniquely human higher mental functions.

In my own area of experimental and developmental psychology, studies have also consistently demonstrated the superior learning and motivation arising from playful, as opposed to instructional, approaches to learning in children. Pretence play supports children’s early development of symbolic representational skills, including those of literacy, more powerfully than direct instruction. Physical, constructional and social play supports children in developing their skills of intellectual and emotional ‘self-regulation’, skills which have been shown to be crucial in early learning and development. Perhaps most worrying, a number of studies have documented the loss of play opportunities for children over the second half of the 20th century and demonstrated a clear link with increased indicators of stress and mental health problems.

Within educational research, a number of longitudinal studies have demonstrated superior academic, motivational and well-being outcomes for children who had attended child-initiated, play-based pre-school programmes. One particular study of 3,000 children across England, funded by the Department for Education themselves, showed that an extended period of high quality, play-based pre-school education was of particular advantage to children from disadvantaged households.

Studies have compared groups of children in New Zealand who started formal literacy lessons at ages 5 and 7. Their results show that the early introduction of formal learning approaches to literacy does not improve children’s reading development, and may be damaging. By the age of 11 there was no difference in reading ability level between the two groups, but the children who started at 5 developed less positive attitudes to reading, and showed poorer text comprehension than those children who had started later. In a separate study of reading achievement in 15 year olds across 55 countries, researchers showed that there was no significant association between reading achievement and school entry age.

This body of evidence raises important and serious questions concerning the direction of travel of early childhood education policy currently in England. In the interests of children’s academic achievements and their emotional well-being, the UK government should take this evidence seriously. (HEF: As should the New Zealand Government)

– See more including comments at: http://www.cam.ac.uk/research/discussion/school-starting-age-the-evidence#sthash.PuhRuabf.dpuf

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ECE vs Home: stress in child

“Daycare or preschool stress can be measured by the levels of cortisol-—a stress hormone—-that children produce during the day. In normal, healthy people, cortisol levels follow a daily rhythm, peaking when they wake and then falling over the course of the day. Cortisol levels are the lowest just before sleep (Sapolsky 2004). But stress changes the pattern. If you are under stress, your cortisol level rises, regardless of the time of day. In the short term, this helps your body respond to the crisis. But chronic stress, and chronically elevated levels of cortisol, can cause health and developmental problems (Sapolsky 2004). Because cortisol levels are easy to measure in young children, researchers have collected samples from children who attend daycare and children who stay home. In study after study, the results are the same. When children stay home, their cortisol levels show the healthy pattern–rising at waking and decreasing throughout the day. When children attend daycare, the pattern  changes. Cortisol levels increase during the day (Geoffroy et al 2006). See more at: http://www.parentingscience.com/preschool-stress.html#sthash.DxbP97o1.dpuf

Long days at nursery or with childminders ‘raising a generation of school tearaways’

  • Research says that bad behaviour is linked to hours spent without parents
  • Jonas Himmelstrand is presenting his report to MPs this week

By Steve Doughty

PUBLISHED: 00:21 GMT, 11 March 2013

Long hours in nurseries or with childminders lead to mental health problems and difficulties at school for children, a leading expert claimed yesterday.

According to researcher Jonas Himmelstrand, falling educational standards and a wave of disorder and bullying in schools are directly connected to state subsidies for daycare.

His report is to be presented to MPs this week by pressure group Mothers at Home Matter, which is calling on politicians to cut childcare subsidies and instead ease the bias in the tax and benefit system against those who stay at home to bring up their children.

Mothers are in the awkward position of being encouraged to go out to work but also told to spend enough time with their childrenQuandary: Mothers are in the awkward position of being encouraged to go out to work but also told to spend enough time with their children

The analysis looked at the situation in Mr Himmelstrand’s homeland of Sweden where more than nine out of ten children spend their early years in nurseries.

He said: ‘Swedish schools have among the highest truancy, the greatest classroom disorder, the most damage to property and the most offensive language of all comparable nations. I would urge policy makers in the UK to rethink their approach to childcare.

‘Emulating the Swedish approach, where both the staff-to-child ratio and the number of hours children spend in day care are both increasing, is not the answer and is actually damaging to your children’s future.’

Mr Himmelstrand is a controversial figure in Sweden. He now lives outside the country because of what he calls state persecution of his family because of his decision to educate his children at home.

He said: ‘The early exposure of large groups of peers leads to peer-orientation, which has detrimental results on psychological maturation, learning and the transference of culture between generations. It is at the root of bullying, teenage gangs, promiscuity and the flat-lining of culture.’

The fresh claims come as ministers here redouble efforts to encourage British mothers to go out to work.

A majority of mothers of toddlers now take jobs and use nurseries, childminders, nannies or friends or relatives to look after their children while they work.

Childcare Minister Elizabeth Truss has said it is ‘vital’ for mothers to work and is planning changes to childcare regulations to allow fewer staff to look after more pre-school children.

Families with just one working parent have faced increasing risks of poverty in recent years.

Researcher Jonas Himmelstrand linked disorder, truancy and low educational standards to parents not spending enough time with their childrenChildcare controversy: Researcher Jonas Himmelstrand linked disorder, truancy and low educational standards to parents not spending enough time with their children

The non-working parent gets no help from the tax credit system which subsidises single parents, and the income tax system, unlike those in most of the developed world, gives no extra help to two-parent families or workers with family responsibilities.

David Cameron has yet to make good his 2010 election manifesto promise to give a tax break to married couples.

A number of research projects over the past two decades have suggested young children who spend long hours in daycare can suffer in later years in performance at school.

The Himmelstrand findings said psychological problems among Swedish schoolgirls have tripled since the 1980s; Swedish schools, which 30 years ago were among the best in the world, now produce average results and are below average for maths; and that Swedish schools now have among the worst discipline problems in Europe.

Marie Peacock, of Mothers at Home Matter, said: ‘We urge British policymakers not to try to imitate a Scandinavian system that is yielding negative results.

‘The public debate focuses on the supposed advantages of childcare, but there is no parallel discussion in terms of the value of mothers.’

I have published the whole article because there is advertising on this page that you might not like to be exposed to.
Please bear with me for a few more emails – this is nearly over.

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Related Links:

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From the Smiths:

https://hef.org.nz/2011/craig-smith-26-january-1951-to-30-september-2011/

Updated 5 October 2012:  One year on (Craig Smith’s Health) page 7 click here

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Needing help for your home schooling journey:

https://hef.org.nz/2011/needing-help-for-your-home-schooling-journey-2/

And

Here are a couple of links to get you started home schooling:

https://hef.org.nz/getting-started-2/

and

https://hef.org.nz/exemptions/

This link is motivational: https://hef.org.nz/2012/home-schooling-what-is-it-all-about/

Exemption Form online: https://hef.org.nz/2012/home-schooling-exemption-form-now-online/

Coming Events: https://hef.org.nz/2013/some-coming-events-for-home-education-during-2013-2/

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Social Security (Benefit Categories and Work Focus) Amendment Bill

https://hef.org.nz/2012/make-a-submission-reject-compulsory-early-education-for-3-year-olds/

New Zealand, Sweden and the Johanssons

I am really concerned about this question asked in Parliament today:

METIRIA TUREI to the Prime Minister: When he said “we don’t want to see any New Zealand child suffer … children don’t get to make choices, they’re often the victim of circumstance” does that mean he will take tangible steps to ensure children don’t suffer because of circumstances beyond their control? http://www.parliament.nz/en-NZ/PB/Business/QOA/2/f/3/00HOH_OralQuestions-List-of-questions-for-oral-answer.htm

In Sweden, yesterday 10 December 2012 – International Human Rights Day, the  case for Domenic Johansson did not go well. For background information please refer to the related links below.

The Swedish authorities want to take Domenic take from his parents, who love him dearly and only want the best for him, and let his foster parents adopt him because they think that Domenic was a “Victim of circumstances” He was being home schooled, missed some vaccinations and he had cavities in his teeth. For this Domenic’s parents have not been able to see him for over 2 years and the contact before that for over a year was seldom. The authorities did all they could to keep Domenic and his parents separated. This is what Ruby Harrold-Claesson, the Johansson’s lawyer said “The 3 day court hearing was to decide on the legal guardianship of Domenic, i e a kind of forced adoption, and the hearing took place in the Svea Court of Appeal, i e the civil court system.” The hearing went against the Johanssons: Parents lost Domenic

Is this what New Zealand is heading for.

With the Social Security (Benefit Categories and Work Focus) Amendment Bill wanting to make ECE compulsory for beneficiaries from age 3 and for Mothers to be working 15 hours a week from the time their youngest is 5 and 30 hours a week once their youngest is 14, and all the emphasis on poverty and vulnerable children – it would seem so. The push to make changes to Section 59 were also very similar to the moves Sweden made in the same direction.

Sweden looks like an Utopia with Sweden being “materially rich with a wealth of public social insurances and good wealth distribution and low child poverty”. But in reality accordinging to Jonas Himmelstrand “The use of highly subsidized early day care has steadily increased since its inception in 1985. The Swedish Government claims that research shows that children in day care develop and learn much better than home cared children. But the Swedish statistics tell another story. Psychosomatic symptoms such as regular headaches, tummy aches, worries and anxiety tripled for girls and doubled for boys during the years 1985-2005. A Government investigation quoted a study showing that Sweden has the worst development in psychological health among our youth in relation to  eleven comparable European countries. The school results went down during the same period and are now, in some scholastic subjects, below the OECD average. The quality of parenthood has deteriorated, and adult sick leave is high, especially for women.” Read more about Sweden here: About Early Child Care in Sweden

For those parents, like the Johanssons and the Himmelstrands, there have been real consequences for going against the authourities in Sweden.

Will this be the same in New Zealand? There are many in authority, like Paula Bennett, who do not understand Home Education at all. They think that children do best in an ECE and in Schools.  Will they see our children fitting in this “we don’t want to see any New Zealand child suffer … children don’t get to make choices, they’re often the victim of circumstance” does that mean he will take tangible steps to ensure children don’t suffer because of circumstances beyond their control?”

Domenic was not asked if he wanted to be seperated from his parents – he was wrenched from them at the airport. Will our children be asked if they want to be seperated from us so that the authorities can do what they think is best for them?  I don’t think so.

Please continue to fight this Social Security Bill by writing/ringing/visiting the Social Select Committee members.

More here:

Contacting the Select Committee (How to make supplementary submissions if you put in an original written submission.)

International Human Rights Day 10 December 2012

UPDATE: Answer to above question here: John Key: Let us target and focus more on those who are in need.

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Related links to Johanssons:

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Please feel free to repost, forward or pass on  this email

Please do so with the whole post. Thankyou

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Related Links to Social Security Bill:

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

From the Smiths:

https://hef.org.nz/2011/craig-smith-26-january-1951-to-30-september-2011/

Updated 5 October 2012:  One year on (Craig Smith’s Health) page 7 click here

*****

Needing help for your home schooling journey:

https://hef.org.nz/2011/needing-help-for-your-home-schooling-journey-2/

And

Here are a couple of links to get you started home schooling:

https://hef.org.nz/getting-started-2/

and

https://hef.org.nz/exemptions/

This link is motivational:
https://hef.org.nz/2012/home-schooling-what-is-it-all-about/

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Social Security (Benefit Categories and Work Focus) Amendment Bill

Make a submission: Reject compulsory Early Education for 3 year olds

About Early Child Care in Sweden

From: Jonas Himmelstrand, founder and director
The Mireja Institute, Sweden
In Sweden 93% of all children aged 18 months-5 years attend day care, or preschool as it is called in Sweden. Daycare is not yet formally compulsory, but the tax system and the day care subsidies are designed to make home care very expensive and demanding large financial sacrifices. Also the Swedish Government propaganda about the blessings of day care, even for one-year olds, is very intense. Not having your child in day care after parental leave is considered strange and even weird by a large part of the general public.
The use of highly subsidized early day care has steadily increased since its inception in 1985. The Swedish Government claims that research shows that children in day care develop and learn much better than home cared children. But the Swedish statistics tell another story. Psychosomatic symptoms such as regular headaches, tummy aches, worries and anxiety tripled for girls and doubled for boys during the years 1985-2005. A Government investigation quoted a study showing that Sweden has the worst development in psychological health among our youth in relation to  eleven comparable European countries. The school results went down during the same period and are now, in some scholastic subjects, below the OECD average. The quality of parenthood has deteriorated, and adult sick leave is high, especially for women. As Sweden is materially rich with a wealth of public social insurances and good wealth distribution and low child poverty this is hardly the cause. The most realistic cause is the early separation of children and parents for too many hours per working day as strongly encouraged by our Government.

I am often asked for a collected paper on these findings. I have written a book in Swedish, and I am working on a shorter version in English. However summaries of these facts can be found in a few written statements and a 60 minute speech recorded in Canada last year which is now on YouTube. Most of these written or video statements are listed on the web page of The Mireja Institute think-tank, http://www.mireja.org/articles.lasso.

Here is selection of some of the best ones in chronological order, oldest first:

“Secure children – Secure parents – The role of family in the 21st century” http://www.stratletter.com/dec10speech.html
Statement given at a Swedish Parliament seminar on December 10, 2008. The first high-level speech based on my book.

 

“Are the Swedish state family policies delivering?”
http://www.mireja.org/Resources/himmelstrand_lisbon_statement.pdf
Statement given on May 25, 2010 at the EU-sponsored FamilyPlatform conference in Lisbon. Gives a short overview.

 

“Busting the Myths of Swedish Family Policies”
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rEED4yFltCE
YouTube recording of a 60 minute speech I gave in Ottawa on May 5, 2011. The most extensive presentation recorded or written.

 

“Work-Family Balance: The importance of Family Focused Solutions”
http://www.mireja.org/Resources/110603_UN_presentation.pdf
Statement given at a United Nations Expert Group Meeting in New York on June 3, 2011. The shortest presentation, but has extensive references.

 

When my English book gets published, hopefully during 2013, there will be information about it on The Mireja Institute website.

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Jonas Himmelstrand, founder and director
The Mireja Institute
Box 1454, 114 79 Stockholm, Sweden.

http://www.mireja.org

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Related Links:

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

From the Smiths:

https://hef.org.nz/2011/craig-smith-26-january-1951-to-30-september-2011/

Updated 5 October 2012:  One year on (Craig Smith’s Health) page 7 click here

*****

Needing help for your home schooling journey:

https://hef.org.nz/2011/needing-help-for-your-home-schooling-journey-2/

And

Here are a couple of links to get you started home schooling:

https://hef.org.nz/getting-started-2/

and

https://hef.org.nz/exemptions/

This link is motivational:
https://hef.org.nz/2012/home-schooling-what-is-it-all-about/

*******************************

Social Security (Benefit Categories and Work Focus) Amendment Bill

Make a submission: Reject compulsory Early Education for 3 year olds

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