Forget about prepping your children for university entrance exams. To give kids a leg up in their academic careers, parents these days are starting earlier - way earlier.
Parents are turning to private tutorial services for tykes as young as 3 to get them ready to ace entrance exams for competitive kindergarten programs aimed at gifted children, according to the New York Post.
New York mother Chavon Peele told the newspaper she paid $79 (U.S.) a month to access test drills for her daughter Taylor Dior, starting at 3. By the time Taylor was 4, she was able to recognize patterns, identify a rhombus, do analogy exercises and carry out other advanced tasks. The daily 45-minute study sessions paid off. Taylor scored in the 98th and 99th percentile on the admissions test for the New York education department's gifted and talented program.
"I'm a superstar, and I know everything!" Taylor told the Post.
Another parent, Michael McCurdy, whose daughter ranked in the 95th percentile on her kindergarten test, noted that preschoolers face high expectations. "A four-year-old has to know things like sphere, cylinder and trapezoid," he said, adding that little ones also need to be able to do basic math and demonstrate critical thinking.
While encouraging youngsters to cram for kindergarten may be extreme, Angela Marseglia says many three-year-olds are eager to learn. Ms. Marseglia is the director of two Toronto locations of the Oxford Learning Centre, which offer reading programs for 3 and up. The programs aren't competitive, she says. Rather, they're geared to stimulate curious minds and give children a positive association with learning.
Thornhill, Ont.-based child and family therapist Sara Dimerman warns against formal academics at such a young age. "At this age, children should be focusing on just being little kids and enjoying the wonder of play."