There is a strange tendency to start educating a child as early as possible under the influence of a misguided concept that it is beneficial, and that it roots in the child the attitude of seeing the process of learning as a natural part of his daily routine. Above all, the greatest misconception seems to be the idea that a child is like a sponge in his early years, which makes studying more efficient and prone to absorption then than at an older stage.
I wouldn't totally disagree with all these claims but just like all other things in life they come at a cost that is paid solely by the child. The child has no part in deciding: we, as grown-ups, decide for him. The question, however, is not about what the child wants but what would be natural for him to do. You guessed it: play and have fun with other children.
As is true for most mammals, playing and interacting with others contribute more to a child's development than all other activities put together,
The physical aspects (running, jumping, climbing etc.) build a healthy body, a better immunity system and better motoric coordination while the social sides build communication skills, adaptation to community and a sense of empathy towards others. Taking these away in favor of sitting for six to ten hours a day with brief intervals in between doesn't satisfy a child's emotional or developmental needs.
So what would be the right thing to do?
There should be more room at a young age for playing and interacting. It should be balanced with learning needs and even then, it should be preferred that the learning be done through fun games and activities that will come naturally to children instead of sitting silent and stiff in a class for a whole hour. Through the years, the ratio of fun to formal studying can shift gradually to the latter but there seems to be no reason why the scales should tip in the favor of said style right from the start.
One must be really cruel or totally disregard the natural pace of development to inflict on children what we voluntarily put them through.
This tendency has become even more extreme in recent years due to ambitious parents who give their children extracurricular learning hours after school, reducing even further their child's playing space and time. Some parents even enlist their babies in ridiculous schemes like listening to languages before they can even speak one.
One of the biggest problems seen all over the world is that many parents, either due to lack of time or patience (especially when both parents work) remove themselves from the requirements of providing education to their children, leaving it all in the hands of school teachers. Later they also blame the system when their assumptions fail in reality. To aggravate these problems further, children, in our age, are exposed to much more sensory stimulation (example, violence) than they were in the past, thus making them less susceptible to the necessary discipline required for coping with the many demands of school at a young age.