Do you constantly organise activities for your children? Do you complete your children’s homework, so they can get a good grade? Did you teach your child to read, or solve maths equations before they got to school, because you wanted them to ‘get ahead’? If you answered yes to any of these questions, you may part of the Academic Panic, and it might be helpful to consider the following:
1. Just because kids are doing OK academically when they’re young doesn’t mean they won’t sleep around, do drugs or drive their car into a ditch at age 18.
2. When you’re 25 no-one cares what age you learned to read or compute.
3. There is a group of people we might call the illiterate-literate: the person who can read but chooses not to. The prime candidates are children who have learned to read too EARLY. These children begin fine, then get to age nine or 10 ( for some it’s as teenagers) and suddenly they stop reading. They only ever read, after that point, because they have to. In contrast, there are the children who become perfectionists – who won’t try new things because they can’t get ‘it’ just right first time; or who won’t ask for help: again often children who are academically successful at a young age.
4. For others Reading and academics become the crutch: so they don’t have to interact with others. It’s socially acceptable to read/study, it’s encouraged – and when reading/studying a lot you don’t learn how to get on with people. Same with attending lots of extra lessons.
5. Early academic achievement has a lot to do with genetics. If the parents are smart-enough, and the children are wired properly (Reading Problems? Try this.) and understand they are expected to read/compute/achieve – they will learn to read and compute. Adult achievement is often due to good choices, SELF-motivation and EFFORT, not how well you did at school when you were five or nine or 13.
5. Many children who achieve at a high level in one activity before the age of 12 and continue to succeed throughout their teens become anorexic, depressed, and/or have major injuries before they are 30. Piano and violin are classics for this, as are most competitive sports.
7. Experiences and lessons are not necessarily the same thing. Take experiences with water, we can: drink it; blow bubbles in it; float things on it; float on it ourselves; sit in it; bounce in it; swim on or under it; tip it from one container to another etc. All these are experiences. Then do all of these in different types of water: kitchen sink; bath; shallow puddle; deep puddle; lake; stream; river; river with rapids; small waves; big waves; swimming pool; from the hose and so on. You could provide all of these great brain stimulants without paying for a single lesson.
8. There is always going to be someone smarter and faster than your children: if not now, one day.
9. Employers these days often have to choose from many people with similar qualifications to fill one position. Often, the people they are choosing to employ have high emotional intelligence, and they are not necessarily the people who have the highest ‘scores’ or greatest number of letters after their name.
10. Emotional Intelligence means maturity. You catch it naturally from: extreme nurturing; thousands of hours of non-electronic play; hearing and Reading hundreds of stories and experiencing regular meaningful rituals; eating mostly healthy food and drinking lots of water; having parents who are mostly calm and firmly enforce some basic rules; and by having many conversations with real people.
I’m not saying that extra lessons are bad. If children are struggling at school, of course you’d consider them. Our children have swimming lessons from the age of three (safety and brain wiring). When they are two, they have a year of pre-instrumental music. Now the Hare is nine he has started learning to play the piano, and he will play a team sport this year. But he’s nine. That’s three activities a week. Until now, he’s had one.
So, I ask you to please consider these three things:
Is it important your children learn to read, or is it urgent?
Is it essential your young children attend loads of activity type classes, or are they extras, they can wait for?
Are you truly supporting your children in their quest to learn, or are you part of the Academic Panic?
If you want to look at some further information on the effects of early academics check out this post: http://phillywaldorf.wordpress.com/2011/02/04/the-longevity-project/
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