my quote of the moment: "if you can attain repose and calm, believe that you have seized happiness." ~julie-jeanne-eleonore de lespinasse

October 27, 2011

raising kids these days

i recently saw a commercial advertising a math program for your preschooler. it's supposed to help teach them counting and basic addition. it says it's supposed to "give your kids a jump start," to make sure they're ready for school.

when my boys entered kindergarten, they weren't required to know any of that. in fact, in the beginning, they just worked on writing and recognizing their numbers and shapes. it was only at the end of the year that they touched on basic addition. in fact, lumpy is in first grade and they're still just working on basic addition.

i know there is a lot of competition in school these days, that kids are being pushed farther and faster than when i was in school. i've read articles about how america is behind the rest of the world in maths and sciences, about how are schools are lacking and something needs to be done if our children are going to be competitive in tomorrow's world market. i've heard about all of the challenges that they'll face, trying to get in a good school so they can get a good job, and how if they don't start early they'll be on the wrong track for the rest of their life.

i've also read articles and studies about how kids just need to be kids. about how playing games and using their imaginations are just as important for their development as all the studying that is recommended. about how they need to be silly and have fun and there's no reason to rush the growing-up process.

with all this contradictory advice, what exactly are you supposed to do? i believe all of the pressure put on kids equates to pressure for parents. aren't we responsible for their upbringing? don't we help to make sure that they succeed? then too, aren't we responsible for their failures? how do you know if you should push your kids harder or just let them have fun? how early is too early to push the fundamentals of learning? is it ok to let them watch educational tv shows and play learning computer games, or is it more important to restrict screen time?

the bigger question for me is what do you do when you child is average? that no matter what you've done, how much help you gave, what expenses you went to, they are still as good as they will ever be. are we becoming a culture where being average is looked down on, and exceptional is the new standard?

seriously, if anybody has any answers, please share, because all of this is making my head spin.

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