View Full Version : Does Anyone have recent studies references on delaying or not academics ?

08-31-2012, 11:59 PM

I am very slowly getting ready to homeschool my son (and future children) in a few years and would like to know if any of you actually have references, links of RECENT studies about the benefits of:
- NOT delaying academics
- Delaying Academics

I am currently looking into a mix of montessori/waldorf/core knowledge kind of idea but the point on delaying academics does not clear up. The more I read, the more confusing it's getting.
Some says if the child is delayed at first grade, studies show he will never catch up overtime (core knowledge), some other are all into delaying academics (waldorf style) for a more balanced being etc...

Have anyone heard of actual studies for one or the other approach ?

09-01-2012, 08:37 AM
I haven't - if there's a university or college with a education dept near you, I'd suggest talking with a librarian about finding what's out there.

I do wonder if the core knowledge folk are looking at children from homes without a lot of learning going on (I' sure there's a more succinct way to say that), no books, not much conversation between parents and children that kind of thing. In that situation I could see kids being at a long term disadvantage if they don't get some sort of educational intervention. This is so obviously not the case with homeschoolers that I don't know if the study is valid.

Regardless of studies, you have to pay attention to your child - a couple of my children were reading before 5yo and would have seen waldorf as hopelessly clueless and a huge waste of time, while another needed an extra year to physically become capable of reading. There really is no one way to do anything.

09-01-2012, 11:11 AM
Given the number of kids red-shirted in public schools these days (starting K a year late, but then I guess they never 'catch up' either), I have to assume the studies Core knowledge is talking about is kids behind in a ps setting that stay in that ps setting, where there are very few resources avail to help kids who are struggling. That really has nothing to say about homeschooling (which is 100% adaptive to the individual student), or even about a Waldorf school where ALL the students are "delayed". I like some of the Core knowledge materials, but I find some of their self-justification a bit too close to scare tactics.

As a starting point, you could look up Waldorf on Wikipedia. There is a section on studies:
Waldorf education - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Waldorf_education#Studies)

Here are a couple snippets:
A 2008 report by the Cambridge-based Primary Review found that Steiner/Waldorf schools achieved superior academic results to English state schools.[76] (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Waldorf_education#cite_note-75)

A 2009 study comparing Waldorf and public school students in New Zealand found that the Waldorf students, who had no formal instruction in reading in pre-school or kindergarten, caught up in reading ability by around age 10, at which point there was "no difference in reading achievement between children who had been given early instruction in reading and those who had not".[86] (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Waldorf_education#cite_note-85)

09-01-2012, 01:11 PM
I've seen the studies you're referring to about kids not catching up, but that's in a school setting. I find it hard to believe that you can apply that to a homeschool situation. The forces that make the kids never catch up are likely to be at least as much social (negative peer pressure, stigma, etc.) and structural (the rest of the class moves on and there's little remediation or personal attention, there's no special classes for remediation, etc.). They may also be developmental (there's a special window of opportunity for setting the groundwork, or something like that), but without controlling somehow for those first two factors, I don't see how you could know whether there's a developmental issue in delaying in homeschooling specifically. When you couple that with the fact that it's not uncommon in other countries to delay academics more than here (I think it's Sweden that's often cited as not starting proper school until age 7), then it's hard to believe that this is a developmental issue. More likely a social issue.

That does not, conversely, mean that delaying academics has any developmental benefit. Or that early academics hurts children. I know there are older studies about these ideas, but I also haven't seen anything that's recent. Most people who support that quote studies from decades ago.

I personally don't think that there's any good reason to delay academics. If you can introduce things in a gentle way, not have unrealistic expectations, and be keyed into your child's needs so that you back off if a child isn't ready, then I think that's positive. And I also personally think that force delaying academics, as some Waldorf proponents suggest, is very negative. If a child has a drive to learn to read and you take away their books, I find that offensive, honestly.

However, if a child doesn't show that drive and you don't push academics early, then that's a parent's choice and I absolutely think you haven't hurt your kid and I've never seen any real evidence to the contrary.

09-01-2012, 07:20 PM
I just wanted to add that just as homeschooling represents a spectrum from school-at-home to radical unschooling, so there is a spectrum within Waldorf. On one extreme I've seen materials say any pre-reading should be discouraged before 7yo and will unbalance their heart-energy, though most including a friend who teaches at an official affiliated Waldorf school says you meet the child where they are, so if a child is reading, you support that even though the standard curric wouldn't teach it yet. The same is true for folks who introduce academics early -- there are those who PUSH their kids hard (as in thru tears) from preschool on (is Tiger Moms still the moniker?) to parents who encourage and expose their kids, put don't push. Generally, I think most hs-ing parents find themselves to some extent in the bin titled "eclectic" -- taking the bits that fit their family and situation and discarding the rest.

So maybe that explains how I find myself with three highly accelerated kids, including a 3yo reading at a solid first grade level, happily using Oak Meadow (Waldorf based) as my primary curriculum. Go figure.

You will be hard pressed to find much research applicable to the home environment. Whatever you do, I think as long as you don't forget that one of the greatest strengths of home schooling is the innate responsiveness to the individual needs of your child, you will do great no matter what flavor of homeschooling you choose. Your choice is also not carved in stone -- styles do evolve with experience and in response to the learning styles and personalities of the kids.

I started out very much with a classical, heavy from the start approach with my first. It was effective with her, and she enjoyed it if not exactly joyful but it simply wasn't going to work with my next 2 kids. So I adapted. Ironically, my second daughter is just as accelerated with half the work load and my eldest daughter continues to excel but has found that spark and joy that was missing with the classical/core knowledge approach. This is just my experience with my kids. Other people may well find the exact opposite to be true. LOL

Research and studies are great (I'm a research scientist, lol), BUT leave room in your research to find out your personal truth. Your kids are NOT statistics. THey are unique realizations from a population with certain statistical properties. No study can tell you what will serve your family best. Read, see what rings most true for you, give it a try, and be willing to adjust course if needed. :)

Stella M
09-02-2012, 05:58 PM
Oh wow, just go look at all the info about the Finnish kids. They do great, despite a 'late' start to formal schooling.