The call to action coincides with the publication of a new book, Too much, too soon? , which includes essays by 23 early years educators, academics and policy-makers, including psychologist Dr Penelope Leach, early years experts Margaret Edgington and Wendy Scott, academics Dr Sebastian Suggate and Professor Lilian Katz, and MP and former chair of Education and Skills committee MP Barry Sheerman. Its contributors argue that children are being pushed into formal test-driven and target-led education too early and are facing increasing pressure to grow up too soon by a commercially-driven and screen-based society. The book, edited by Dr Richard House, senior lecturer in psychotherapy at Roehampton University s Research Centre for Therapeutic Education, has grown out of the Open Eye campaign, which initially sought to criticise some aspects of the EYFS, primarily for being overly focussed on assessment and introducing too much formal learning too soon through, for example, inappropriate early learning goals in literacy and numeracy. In his introduction, Dr House acknowledges that the EYFS is currently being revised and that while some of the campaigners criticisms of the framework may well be acted upon...It seems equally likely, however, that at least some of our ongoing concerns will remain unaddressed after any changes to the existing EYFS are implemented. The debate has now widened to include aspects of modern life, which the contributors believe are harmful to young children s learning and well-being. In a letter to The Daily Telegraph - five years on from the original Open Eye letter to the same newspaper in September 2006 - 238 signatories call for major reforms to protect children from a relentless diet of "too much, too soon." It says, The time has come to move from awareness to action. We call on all organisations and individuals concerned about the erosion of childhood to come together to achieve the following: public information campaigns about children s developmental needs, what constitutes "quality childcare", and the dangers of a consumerist-based life-style; the establishment of a genuinely play-based curriculum in nurseries and primary schools up to the age of six, free from the downward pressure of formal learning; tests and targets; community-based initiatives to ensure that children s outdoor play and connection to nature are encouraged, supported and resourced within every local neighbourhood, and the banning of all forms of marketing at children up to at least age seven. --Nursery World http://www.nurseryworld.co.uk
About the Author
Richard House PhD lectures at the Research Centre for Therapeutic Education, Roehampton University. He is a Steiner kindergarten educator and founder member of OPEN Eye. With Sue Palmer, he orchestrated the two Daily Telegraph Open Letters on 'toxic childhood' (2006) and 'play' (2007) He writes on childcare, education, psychotherapy.