Children should not have to start school until they are six to prevent early ‘adultification’, an game session with the children of early age has claimed. Going against conventional wisdom that their intellect should be fed and stimulated early on, education expert Dr Richard House says that over-emphasis on the three Rs – reading, writing and arithmetic – can actually cause long-term damage.
The senior lecturer at Roehampton’s University for Therapeutic Education added that rather than starting school at the current standard age of four or five, those with ‘runaway intellect’ would do better if they were slowed down. He said that only children from deprived backgrounds should enter formal education at the younger age because they would ‘benefit from such early interventions’. Calling on the Government to look again at the school starting age, he will outline findings of an empirical study on the topic to the Westminster Education Forum later today. Dr House told the Daily Telegraph: ‘The conventional wisdom is that naturally intelligent children should have their intellect fed and stimulated at a young age, so they are not held back. Yet these new empirical findings strongly suggest that exactly the opposite may well be the case, and that young children’s runaway intellect actually needs to be slowed down in the early years if they are not to risk growing up in an intellectually unbalanced way, with possible life-long negative health effects. He added: ‘The evidence is now quite overwhelming that such an early introduction to institutional learning is not only quite unnecessary for the vast majority of children, but can actually cause major developmental harm, and at worst a shortened lifespan.
An 80-year study in the U. Dr House said that bright children put into education too early could even suffer life-long negative health effects if they grew up in an ‘intellectually unbalanced way’. A similar study was carried out in 2009 when Professor Greg Brooks at Sheffield University also said that formal schooling should be started two years later. Another study found that England’s starting age is among the lowest in Europe.