Growing Up Too Fast

Growing Up Too Fast

shutterstock_215717983Two stories in the Times over the past few days raise the same kinds of questions: How young is too young? When did childhood become something to leapfrog through?

The first, an essay in the New York Times Magazine this past weekend by Peggy Orenstein, is about homework in kindergarten. Orenstein concludes that it doesn’t help children later in life, that it may in fact be harmful to learning, and that there has to be a stop to the trend of children doing things younger and sooner.

“How did 5 become the new 7, anyway?” she asks, then doles out blame among parents, schools that are “teaching to the test” and “what marketers refer to as KGOY — Kids Getting Older Younger — their explanation for why 3-year-olds now play with toys that were initially intended for middle-schoolers. (Since adults are staying younger older — 50 is the new 30! — our children may soon surpass us in age.)”

It’s not just academics and toy preferences in which age creep is a problem. Teen singing stars used to actually be teens. And sports used to be something young children did for fun, not profit. Here, too, one has to wonder how much of the cause lies with the parents, who either actively encourage their child or fail to discourage them from narrowing their lives at too young an age.

Yes, Tiger started young. But would he have lost any ground had he started later? And for every Tiger, are there not countless other children who have burned out early because they leapt too fast and too soon out of the gate? READ MORE