My son is learning what an imperative verb is at school this week. He is five. I am at a loss as to why he needs to know this when he is still getting the hang of the whole reading and writing thing. But then I still don’t quite understand why he needs homework or to sit an exam next year.
Given that he is ahead of the game compared to some of his European peers by being in school right now, does he really need to know about the technical terms for our complex grammar? I hope that at this age the only thing he is deconstructing is building blocks and not sentences but evidently not.
In our drive to make kids smarter, faster, stronger, are we forgetting that our children are, well, children? Surely it is better for children to enjoy learning about the world around them at this age than have them know that a sentence is made up from a verb, noun and adjective?
Knowing how to write a grammatically correct sentence shouldn’t matter at this stage as much as letting children play with words to create the stories that exist in their imagination. Roald Dahl taught us that with his experimentation in language in his hugely popular children’s books. The BFG doesn’t speak in grammatically perfect sentences and a child listening to or reading that story would understand that it doesn’t sound right without needing to know why it doesn’t. The fact that they know and are enjoying a book should be enough right now.
My worry is that by pushing our children this hard we are stymying their creativity and enjoyment of learning. By not just letting them read, write and invent we are setting them up to see education as a chore. Something that is there to be endured, learn the rules, pass the test, move on. Our children are not units to download information onto but what they are expected to learn at such a young age is unbelievable.
If you think I am wrong, how many of you had to Google what an imperative verb was at the start of this post?