Academic journal article Kuram ve Uygulamada Egitim Bilimleri

Teacher Views about the Starting Age of the First Grade Elementary School

Academic journal article Kuram ve Uygulamada Egitim Bilimleri

Teacher Views about the Starting Age of the First Grade Elementary School

Article excerpt

Preschool/kindergarten is the first step in school, and at this level, it is essential to educate children through games rather than academic study. In the first grade, children encounter school life and educational activities, with its particular discipline, for the first time. Therefore, children need school readiness to fulfill the first grade's curricular requirements. However, the criterion for starting school in Turkey is age 5, as determined by law. For many years, it was age 6 (72 months) for first grade, and then in 2012, it was amended to 5 years old (60 months) (Resmi Gazete, 2012). A year later, the law was again amended, so that for a year, parents could postpone the start of school for a child aged 60-65. They could petition to postpone a child of 66-68 months from starting school; and obtaining a medical certificate could postpone a child of 69-71 months from starting school (Resmi Gazete, 2012). After the age 5 law was implemented for two years in 1983-1985, these practices were abandoned because of the problems experienced (Güçlü, 2012). Without adequate examination of this failed implementation and without comprehensive portrayal of 5-year-olds' school readiness, the starting age has been reduced to 5 years. However, in many developed countries, the starting age remains 6 years (Balc?, 2011). Nevertheless, many countries have prioritized preschool education instead of reducing the starting age. In developed countries, the ratings of benefits from preschool education have been quite high, and constant study of preschool education has helped improve its quality and efficiency (Erkan & K?rca, 2010).

Beginning school without a certain level of readiness tends to end in failure, afflicting children emotionally (Erkan & K?rca, 2010). Trying to teach a child who is not ready to learn is not only inefficient, but can also cause the child failure, frustration, and feelings of inferiority. Students in such circumstances, even having matured sufficiently, do not dare do things their peers do (Bilir, 2005). Experiences with uncontrolled stress factors, even if these factors can be controlled afterward, cause children to remain passive (Terry, 2011). Therefore, determination of readiness level for learning, and accordingly, the organization of teaching activities, is very important (Ta?demir, 2012).

As many studies have shown, lack of school readiness can result in the child experiencing a variety of problems and might lead to estrangement from school. Determination of readiness for academic tasks can ensure that children are successful in their first school-related experience (Ba?çeli Kahraman & Ba?al, 2013; Oktay, 2010). If students do not have the preconditions required for the first learning units, they cannot learn at the desired level. No effort, encouragement, incentive, reward, or education services can provide a predetermined level of learning (Bloom, 1998). Therefore, in many countries, children take readiness tests, and individual children's multidirectional maturity is evaluated (Erkan & K?rca, 2010). Studies have focused seriously on findings that some children cannot meet the demands of school and programmed learning no matter what age they start school. Therefore, in determining when a child should begin school, other factors besides age should be considered (Oktay, 2010) because learning readiness is related to the student's knowledge, abilities, interests, habits, and values. Forming efficient learning experiences when these elements are not considered is very difficult (Fidan, 1996). The term readiness includes maturation level, including the individual's prior learning, interests, attitudes, motivation levels, abilities, and general health status (Gibson & Vinegradoff, 1986 as cited in Senemo?lu, 2007). School readiness includes the child's experiences and skills from birth to the beginning of school life and means the child is ready to fulfill the school's expectations successfully. …

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