Peaches is 3 years and 8 months old as of this writing and in my attempt to measure her “skills” and “accomplishment”, I braved the Intarwebz and Googled. I came across several blogs and forum that have Moms talking about how their 4 year old memorize the entire solar system, can count upto 100, can draw this and tha, blah blah blah. Then it hit me that one could not really “measure” a child’s learning ability or inability for that matter just by comparing books with other Moms (and do I need to tell you that some Moms tend to exaggerate?) simply because children learn at their own pace and at their own time. I even saw some Moms post URLs to list what a 4 year old should know but I didn’t bother sharing it with you because I’ll tell you straight what every child should know. (I can just imagine how all these bragging posts would do to a worried Mom!)
First let us accept the fact that our kids are not trophies and bragging rights, their childhood is not a race or a competition.
- Your kid should know that she is loved no matter what and that even if Mom and Dad are sometimes mad, it does not mean she is not loved.
- Your kid should know that she is safe and should also know how to keep herself safe in public, with others, and in varied situations. She should know that she can trust her instincts about people and that she never has to do something that doesn’t feel right, no matter who is asking. She should know her personal rights and that the family will back her up.
- She should know how to laugh, goof around, be as imaginative as possible and be silly. She should know that it is always okay to paint the sky orange, give cats 6 legs or call chocolate as chocolot.
- She should know her own interests and be encouraged to follow them. If she could care less about learning her numbers and letters, her parents should realize she’ll learn them accidentally soon enough and let her immerse herself instead in crayons, singing like crazy, pretends or playing in the mud.
- She should know that the world is magical and that so is she. She should know that she’s wonderful, brilliant, creative, compassionate and marvelous. She should know that it’s just as worthy to spend the day outside playing “picnic” with her toys, swimming and playing teacher-teacher as it is to practice phonics. (Don’t you think it’s way more worthy?)
- That every child learns to walk, talk, read and do algebra at her own pace and that it will have no bearing on how well she walks, talks, reads or does algebra in the future.
- That the single biggest predictor of high academic achievement and high test scores is reading to children. Not flash cards, not workbooks, not fancy preschools, not blinking toys or computers, but mom or dad taking the time every day or night (or both!) to sit and read them wonderful books.
- That being the smartest or most accomplished kid in class has never had any bearing on being the happiest. We are so caught up in trying to give our children “advantages” that we’re giving them lives as multi-tasked and stressful as ours. One of the biggest advantages we can give our children is a simple, carefree childhood.
- That our children deserves to be surrounded by books, nature, art supplies and the freedom to explore them. Most of us could get rid of 90% of our children’s toys and they wouldn’t be missed, but some things are important– building toys like legos and blocks, creative toys like all types of art materials (good stuff), musical instruments (real ones and multicultural ones), dress up clothes and books, books, books. (Incidentally, much of this can be picked up quite cheaply at some thrift bookstores.) Let our kids be explorers at their own home!
- That our children need more of us. We have become so good at saying that we need to take care of ourselves that some of us have used it as an excuse to have the rest of the world take care of our kids. Yes, we all need undisturbed baths, time with friends, sanity breaks and an occasional life outside of parenthood. But we live in a time when parenting magazines recommend trying to commit to 10 minutes a day with each child and scheduling one Saturday a month as family day. That’s not okay! Our children don’t need Nintendos, computers, after school activities, ballet lessons, play groups and soccer practice nearly as much as they need US–the PARENTS!