The Origins of Remedial Learning

Forty to fifty percent of children nationwide are underprepared for kindergarten, lacking the basic vocabulary and sensitivities that the work demands. These same students are pushed through the system, and in third and fourth grade cannot comprehend early math and English instruction. By the time they reach college – if they make it that far – they are saddled with remedial coursework that costs taxpayers money and whittles away at the students’ financial aid.

These are undoubtedly the same 40% who are kept at home as playthings of bored housewives until they are old enough to go to school. The kids who aren’t in daycare are so visibly behind the kids who are in every single skill that it’s scary.

11 thoughts on “The Origins of Remedial Learning

  1. //the same 40% who are kept at home as playthings of bored housewives

    I would bet on children from very poor families with parents without education, whose mother wouldn’t be able to afford not to work in many cases.

    Is there any hint in the article about class of most of those kids?


  2. I stayed home until first grade. I learned to read and read all the books I could understand as a five and six year old. I socialized with siblings and cousins, playing outdoors a lot, climbing trees, digging in the dirt, etc. I also socialized a little with other children in church.

    When I got to first grade, my teacher told my mother not to let me read at home, except for school assignments, since it would make me lose interest in reading if I read too much. My parents ignored the teacher’s recommendation, thankfully.

    My mother taught me to draw, to cook, to wash dishes, to hoe the garden, to prepare vegetables from the garden, etc. She would read to me any book I and my brother wanted to hear if it was too difficult for us to read. It is not at all clear to me that being taken care of by a stay-at-home mother is a problem in every case.


    1. “It is not at all clear to me that being taken care of by a stay-at-home mother is a problem in every case.”

      – Did you not share that you were bullied at school and had an intense fear of women well into adulthood?


      1. “- Did you not share that you were bullied at school and had an intense fear of women well into adulthood?”

        True enough, although I would not have said fear of women. I had more female friends than male ones. I was more fearful of other boys. But I do not see what that had to do with my staying at home. Everyone I knew as a child stayed at home with a mother. The social pressure on women to stay at home and not work outside the home was severe. Other boys in my community, even my brothers, did not seem to internalize the “fear” of sex, and the assumption that any show of sexual interest would make a girl automatically view me with horror and disdain and have nothing more to do with me.

        That was because of the church, and my father’s attitudes, most likely. My father was extremely repressed, sexually. Though it is true that even to this day my mother worries that she did not impress strongly enough upon her sons that they must keep their hands to themselves when they were with a girl on a date.


  3. My experience is similar to that of David Bellamy; I was raised at home until the age of four, socializing primarily with other children on my block and during my daily trips to the swimming pool. Upon going to Kindergarten, I found that my linguistic abilities and general comprehension were well in excess of most of my peers. It is true that I was bullied, but it seems far more likely that this was due to the fact that I am an autistic transgenderist, and, in any case, seems rather beside the point as the article talks about academic abilities rather than socialization.
    I have, of course, only my own anecdotal evidence to stand upon; it would be interesting to look at the social factors common to most of the 40% that the article mentions.


        1. When I look at a 2 yo in daycare and a 2 yo who’s at home with a housewife, the differences are glaring. The latter doesn’t even tie her own shoelaces! She isn’t potty-trained and can barely say anything. And she can’t eat with a spoon and a fork. They are like different kids, really. Plus, the home kid is bored out of her head and throws endless tantrums.

          I can’t pretend that I’m not seeing these differences. Especially since I was a kid who couldn’t tie her shoelaces until age 7. And I needed somebody to help me remove my own pants at age 8.


      1. I didn’t know how to tie my own shoelaces when I was two. I can’t even remember being two. My earliest memory is my third birthday, when I became overwrought for some reason and started crying and then got embarrassed.

        I think I learned to tie my shoes when I was four or so. I found making knots difficult and I still do. I also learned to pull my own pants up — my parents weren’t my servants. Then at some point I learned to read (I don’t remember when; one day my father is teaching me to spell the word “stop” on the sign at the end of our street, and the next thing I know I’m reading). My parents didn’t put me in daycare until I was four as well, and then I went straight from there to first grade, skipping kindergarten. I was never very sociable and didn’t really like the daycare place. It was boring. None of the other kids could spell their names and their conversation was dull, and all my favorite books and toys were at home. Maybe if my parents had put me in daycare earlier I’d be a social butterfly but thankfully I was spared that fate.


  4. My siblings and I didn’t go to day care, and we actually excelled at school, K-12. (However, my brother did have a time during high school that was iffy, but I think that was a maturity issue. Now that he’s taken college more seriously, he does well.) I almost got held back in kindergarten, but they let me go to first grade, and I was soon one of the highest-achieving students in my elementary school.

    I didn’t learn how to tie my shoes until kindergarten, but I’ve always had poor spatial skills. I’ve heard that I was actually slow to develop in general during my early years. (It is true that I do deal with some mental issues, but I think that comes from a different place than not being in day care. Maybe I would’ve got more positive reinforcement at a day care, though, and my parents’ negativity wouldn’t have affected me as much. Also, I think heredity partially has to do with it.)


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