An educator and one of my favorite author, Jim Trelease has once said: "The primary purpose of being four is to enjoy being four, of secondary importance is to prepare for being five."
Many years ago, the minimum age for attending school was six years, till that age, kids were staying home with siblings, grandparents and parents. Family values, mother tongue, social emotional development, culture, manners are the primary things any child should learn before entering into the world. These are the first life lessons children used to learn from their family. Apart from that, they were left freely to play and be happy, in other words..be a child. Later, woman started to go out to work and that made families to start thinking; who will take care of the children? Initially, grandparents took care of children but relocating to different places for economic betterment made parents to look for other alternatives - childcare facilities. It started like that but now it turned out like a multibillion dollar industry. As per latest stats, early childhood development and childcare industry is about $50 billion industry. Since parents are spending lots of money, they started thinking what are they getting back in return, to make things appealing to parents, childcare industry has innovative ideas like college prep schools, handwriting without tears and Montessori etc. Some centers started attracting parents even with extended hours like 6 am till 7 pm. Even though all these things are fascinating, the child development needs has never been changed. Remember, these are the same children who needs to be with the family or loved one to get most of their needs met. They need small group activities and low student to teacher ratio. They need simple things to be taught. Their simple needs to be met right away. But because parents want absolutely the best for (them?) their child and are demanding more, childcare centers had started coming up with innovative ideas, enticing the parents to capture the market share -- and in the process, the very important concept of childhood is being ignored. Kids are very good at being and living in the moment, they don't dwell into the past or worry about future. Even when we put too many colors and make their childhood complicated, they still try to live with that and stand up to it with their happy faces. It is the society which is making them run after success and making them perfect in imperfect way! How are you preparing your preschool children?