Gözde ERTEKİN – Education Reform Initiative (ERG) Researcher
As a result of the legal regulations adopted by the Parliament at the initiative of the Ministry of National Education, the school start age has been changed from the 2019-2020 academic year. With the change, the starting age of primary school has increased from 6 months to 69 months. Accordingly, children who have completed 69 months of age at the end of September will start primary school in the new academic year. Regulations were also prepared and implemented to give students the right to start school sooner or later depending on their level of development.
International Literature (Literature) recommends 6 years (72 months) as the starting age for elementary school. In most European countries, primary school start age is lower, but in some countries, such as Finland and Estonia, with high PISA scores, primary school start age can be raised to seven. With the changed school start age, Turkey has come a little closer to the age of 6 years, which is the normal primary school start age in European countries, although it is still below.
According to experts, children before the age of six should go to pre-school rather than the first grade of primary school. One reason for this is that 6-7 years of age is an important milestone in mental development. According to Jean Piaget’s stage of cognitive development, 2-6 / 7 years of age is defined as ‘pre-operational period’ and 6 / 7-11 / 12 years of age as ‘concrete operational period’. These stages can vary from baby to baby. Some children pass the concrete operational period at the age of 6, others can pass at the age of seven. In the pre-operational period, children have difficulty distinguishing their own perspectives from others and understanding the cause-and-effect relationship. At the concrete operational stage, which begins at the age of 6-7 years, the child is now ready to undergo mental surgery and to think rationally. These concrete activities include the ability to assemble, separate, transform, and order objects and activities in the mind. For this reason, it is recommended that children not go to primary school before 72 months, the minimum age when they begin to acquire these skills, but in pre-school education, which will meet their needs according to their stage of development. Reducing the school start age from 66 months to 69 months is a positive change in approaching the proposed 72 months for starting, although there is no big difference in this sense. On the other hand, it is very important to consider the overall development of children and to guide them towards pre-school education before primary school.
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Disadvantaged without pre-school education
It is very important to start primary school education before primary school in order to develop children’s cognitive, mental, motor and self-care skills and prepare them for primary school. In the 2023 Education Vision announced in October 2018, the National Ministry of Education said that by 2020, pre-school education will be made compulsory for 5 year olds. This goal can bridge the gap between development and success among children due to inequality of opportunity before starting primary school. However, the quality of education should not be compromised to increase access. Experts working in the field of early childhood education highlight the importance of pre-school time in school preparation and adaptation. A 5-year-old child in pre-school is developing motor, language, social, emotional and self-care skills. The child starts school as a person who can hold a pencil, hold his attention for a long time, meet his own needs, experience separation from his family and develop a community to follow rules. A child who does not have access to pre-school education starts primary school with a disadvantage compared to his peers. This difference is reflected in their learning experience and academic performance.
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Analysis of test results, such as LGS (High School Entrance Examination), ABIDE (Monitoring and Evaluation of Academic Achievement), which we have recently received, also draws attention to the inequality of opportunity. Factors that affect student success include the socio-economic structure of the family; As can be seen, there are opportunities at home along with family education. Compulsory, free and qualified pre-school education will also contribute to the equality of opportunities by bringing together children from different families with equal opportunities in the early stages of their development.
It has a reflection of the following era
Educators and psychologists especially emphasize the importance of 0-6 years in the development of the child. It is known that pre-school education positively affects the mental, verbal, behavioral and socio-emotional development of children. Studies show that these effects are not limited to school life, but persist into later life. The fact is that the child is surrounded by stimuli that allow him to develop basic skills from the age of 3, but especially at the age of 5, play opportunities and structured leisure time, to interact with his peers and can be. In an educational environment where her development is followed by an expert adult her future life as well as her educational life is crucial. At the same time, pre-school education is valuable because it is a tool that gives parents access to these complex age range specialists for development.
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The Education Reform Initiative has been supporting year after year to make at least one year of pre-school education accessible to all children, on a quality, free and compulsory basis. It is gratifying to evaluate the increase in school age and the importance of pre-school education in the light of studies on child development and education policy.
Who is Gojde Ertekin?
Gözde Ertekin Koç completed double major programs in molecular biology and genetics and psychology at the university. In addition to her internship at TEGV, she has gained experience in research laboratories working in fields such as developmental psychology, social interactions, and molecular neurobiology. He holds a master’s degree in social and cultural psychology from the London School of Economics. For her thesis, she analyzed children’s drawings and tried to understand boys ‘and girls’ toys through their eyes. Recognizing his interest in education through his volunteer work, Gojde began his career as a researcher for the Education Reform Initiative (ERG).