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Class Supplement, TOEFL Essay, Early Childhood Education


Writing Topic:
There are people who think that children should start school or kindergarten when they are still very young and should learn early in life to work hard at their studies. Others feel that young children should be more free and should spend a lot of time playing and enjoying themselves. Discuss these opinions. Which idea do you share?

Let’s Think:
In Japan, children start kindergarten at the age of 5 and school at the age of 7. The first opinion says that children should start kindergarten or school earlier and the second, later. Studies show that most of a person’s neurons are formed from ages 0-6. Apart from the genetic factor, the environment you are in during these early years will decide what brain you will have, in other words, what kind of person you will be. Therefore, it is clear that how people spend time in their early childhood will decide their lives.

There seem to be many factors to consider. What should children acquire in these years? What is the purpose of early childhood education? The person’s aptitude and the environment like family and community might be related, for an infant learns from everything around it and what is given as education is probably a small part of a child’s learning. What about the child’s human rights? How can we organize our thoughts when there are so many factors to consider?

I have a feeling that very often, your intuition, unconscious you, knows the answer before you, conscious you, start thinking, especially when the question is about such fundamental matters as education. Let’s start with the answer and find the reasons later today. Which of these opinions do you like better intuitively? Why do you think you have chosen the policy? Why aren’t you interested in the other opinion?

I like the first opinion because …
♦I received early childhood education and made a head start. Learning was easy and fun to me while many of other children who started school later had difficulty in learning ABCs and hated sitting in class. The earlier the start, the better you learn.

♦Except for geniuses, who will teach themselves sooner or later, human beings are animals of habit. If you are not disciplined to work hard, you will be lazy all in your life.

♦In modern society, where traditional communities are gone, children need school as substitute for community. At school, they can interact with adults and other children and learn things that children in the past learned from people in their community such as folk songs, old jokes, games, and other things that will be their lifelong asset.

I like the second opinion because …
♦Although I received early childhood education and now I go to a prestigious high school, I have never appreciated this. I have always had a feeling of loss. I miss my lost childhood. I wanted to play more. I was always envious of other children playing in the park when I had to go to a cram school. I always feel that I lack something important as a human being because of this experience.

♦I doubt whether school or kindergarten is the best environment for a child to prepare for the years to come because they are artificial. The world, nature and society, is complex and dynamic. Children should be exposed to it so that they can learn it directly. They should touch the earth, catch insects, or interact with many kinds of people.

♦Children should play as much as possible because play is their work. The free time they had will give them power to work hard in later years.

☆To increase the volume of your essay, …
— Adding more points/reasons seems to be the easiest way to write more but I think coming up with another point/reason after having brainstormed once is actually rather difficult. Therefore, I recommend concentrating on the logic and details. —
1) describe/develop the main idea well: If a paragraph has only one or two sentences, chances are that you have not described/developed well enough. Look for a sentence that you can add the reasons, details, or examples.
2) describe/develop each sentence well: A statement usually has some exception or needs some condition or concession. Add “except …”, “as long as …”, “although …”, etc.
3) describe words well: Which of the following sentences gives a clear picture of your pet? A) I have a pet. B) I have a cute cat. C) I have a little fluffy kitten.
With two adjectives and a specific noun, Sentence C) depicts your adorable pet well and it is the longest of the three.
4) describe other choices: Even if the Writing Topic does not say, “Describe the two views” or “Compare and contrast the choices,” you can write about other choices. Doing so will make your essay more convincing and longer. Make sure that you do not digress.
5) take up counter-arguments if necessary: While you are writing, sometimes a counter-argument, “Well, but what about in this case?” comes up to your mind. Then it is better not ignore it but take it up and give a counter-counter-argument or two. By doing so, you can confirm your argument. If you can do it well, you will get a high score.
— The key to remember is to try to put what you want to say into words as accurately as you can. Then you cannot help adding some more words and sentences, and some more… In the end, your essay will have many words. —

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