Sweden robs the cradle
Think your child is going to school too young? Don’t move to Sweden. In Mother Svea, children enter preschool as young as twelve months. That’s what the government encourages, at least, so that it can make sure its youth are looked after by “trained professionals.” More than 80 percent of two year-olds are in preschool, including many immigrant children, whose native cultures often times encourage keeping young children at home. The Swedish government believes it’s good for children to be in school--and good for their foreign parents, who learn Swedish ways from their progeny. And the government is doing its part to encourage enrollment. By the end of 2010, for example, it will start paying immigrants to take fulltime Swedish language classes, civic orientation, or job training for two years after they obtain residency, ostensibly forcing those parents to find daycare for their children--in a Swedish preschool. Not everyone is on board with the new push. Last year the center-right Christian-Democrats won a small victory with a new monthly allowance for parents who choose to keep their children at home until that terribly old age of...three. Here in the U.S. of A, we’ve long-debated the merits of early intervention on academic achievement. But what about the social and cultural benefits? Sweden says that’s an agenda worth supporting it its own right.
“Starting them young,” The Economist, January 28, 2010
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