In a recent article, Health Day reporter Amy Norton posited that maybe, just maybe, the global rise in attention deficit hyperactivity disorder may be due to us adults having “unreasonable expectations of young children,” just as researchers have been noting.

Indeed, by mid-2000, 58% of our littlest ones found themselves in full-day preschool programs vs. just 17% back in 1971. At the same time, their parents keep focusing on reading and number learning every chance they get.

Not so, however, in “the good old days” when it was rare for a children to be enrolled in nursery school. Instead, most spent those formative years at home with their moms, playing and honing their social skills. Such learning was then reinforced in kindergarten–and usually just half-day kindergarten, at that, with classrooms filled with role playing centers, easels, sand boxes, and even a piano.

Nowadays, though, says veteran kindergarten teacher Anne Stoudt, “Kindergarten is now first grade, and first grade is now second grade. It used to be normal for first graders to still be learning to read. Now, the handful of kindergartners who aren’t reading by the end of the year are considered behind.”

In fact, 30 years ago, just 5% of little kids could read, whereas in many places today that figure stands at 90%. Plus, most districts across the country have switched from half-day to all-day kindergarten–and add a bit of homework, too, on top of those seven or so hours in school.

At the same time, politicians across the country are calling for, if not demanding, universal preschool, but to what end? The stated purpose, of course, is so no child gets left behind and America stays ahead.

Nevertheless, the CDC is finding that about 11% of our 4- to 17-year-olds have been diagnosed with ADHD. Oh, and by the way, despite all the academic pressure imposed on our youngest and on through the grades, the Education Trust finds that just 8% of our high school seniors complete a curriculum that prepares them for college and/or the workplace…

Think this is progress? Think again.