Could Our Advanced Kids Be Losing Their Childhood?

Can you still recall what you were doing when you were 5 or 6? 

I remember being outdoors, chasing dragonflies, running around with our neighbors, blowing plastic balloon together, sipping the nectar off the stems of santan flowers, eating aratilis, munching on haw flakes after saying body of christ (oops), and shouting Pink 5 after four other kids yelled Red 1, Green 2, Blue 3, and Yellow 4.


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Ahh.. It never fails to make me smile. So many good and fun memories.

If only our kids could live the 80s/90s life that we had.

The times have changed and it makes me sad that children nowadays don’t get to play as much anymore.

Since we are now following the K to 12 program, kids need to be in 1st grade by age 6. Which means they should already be in Kinder2 or Prep by age 5. Which means they need to adapt early to the lecture-type setting.

“Advanced na ngayon,” as most would say.

It sounds good actually, you know, to have advanced kids. But it worries me that it has become a requirement to know how to read, write, and do math before they step into primary school.

The Kindergarten of today is already like the 1st grade of our times.

So instead of playing with their peers, most children are on advanced tutorials or after-school math and reading programs.

Of course we think that this is to their advantage right? But from what I have observed, it comes with a trade. And it isn’t a good one.

I see many 4, 5, 6, 7 year olds in our neighborhood who looked stressed out at a very young age. They look serious, irritable, and burdened with worksheets that they tear up the minute they see other kids on the playground because they cannot join – they got a number of homework to do!

Too much to learn

Whatever happened to letting kids, be kids?

Why is play not prioritized anymore?

In a work environment, I cannot stand a person with low EQ (Emotional Quotient / Emotional Intelligence). Can you?

A colleague may be very smart but if he doesn’t know how to relate to other people, we are going to be plain officemates. And I’m not just talking about myself; other employees tend to repel them too.

EQ, according to psychologists, is just as important as IQ and is in fact a better predictor of success and happiness in life.

If this is the case, then why isn’t EQ being prioritized in young children’s education?

Why aren’t kids given plenty of opportunities to play and socialize?

Why is emphasis given on exams, tests scores, early math, and early reading?

Competitive world perhaps?

School directors have started to come out and admit that most kids in elementary years lack focus, fidget a lot, cannot sit still, and do not have social skills.

No, it’s not ADHD. Let’s not be so quick to diagnose. They claim it’s because PLAY took a backseat during the formative years (0-5 years old).

Academics has become top priority in Kindergarten (even in Pre-K) and this produces so many literate 5 & 6 year olds who are brian smart and but are emotionally unstable.

Even worse, when they get into grade school, they are subjected to long hours of sitting with very few opportunities to run, break a sweat, and make friends.

(Read: The Real Reason Why Children Fidget)

Let’s take our daughter as an example. Mia may have advanced cognitive skills, but emotionally, she is a typical 5-year-old who still needs emotion coaching and a lot of socialization practice.

We let her play outdoors for 1-2 hours every afternoon, but I tell you, I can see that it’s still not enough.

There is more work to be done and the only way to practice sharing, patience, taking turns, and being considerate to others is to have MORE play hours with kids of various ages.

Social skills take time to learn and this is the reason why many parents choose progressive schools and multiple intelligence schools, which unlike traditional schools, utilize play-based learning and wholeness development.

We are lucky to have these options now and I initially thought this is the solution until I learned about their tuition fees! These schools are pretty expensive and not everyone can afford it.

Homeschooling is another good option but it isn’t for everybody as well. To live on one income (only one working parent, the other to be the home teacher) is also quite a challenge especially if you have many heads to feed.

So if you cannot afford the double/triple rates of progressive schools and you cannot make ends meet with only one earning parent, what should average and low-income families do?

I guess most families will be left with no choice but to just go with the system – the traditional way where the teacher is in front and all students learn in the same pace and at the same time and afterwards take additional work home.


I can’t help but wish we could all move to Finland. There, they value play and real-life education, they don’t believe in homeworks, and yet they rank as having one of the best educational systems in the world.

(Read: The Joyful, Illiterate Kindergarteners of Finland)

What do you think we can do? Can we not support EQ in the same way we push for IQ in traditional schools? Can we really not give kids the play time they need? Do kids of today really need to do arithmetic and writing drills before they are mature enough for it?

So much for childhood.


Resources and Additional Readings:

These Elementary Schools Tripled Recess Time and Saw Immediate Positive Results

Intelligence Is Overrated: What You Really Need To Succeed

Why EQ Is More Important Than IQ