I have been coming across a lot of questions from parents about what classes their children should take, what curriculum they should buy, what phonics, math, science lessons they should begin because they are worried they are behind. They are worried they are not learning what they need to learn. I often think they are talking about their 10, 11, 12 year old but no…they are 3, 4 or 5. Even as young as 2! Comments like “My 2 year old is so smart, he can count to 20! He knows most of his A, B, C’s.” Or “My 4 year old can’t read, what should I do?”
Am I really that radical that I think “What the heck?” Well maybe in my mind heck is replaced by more colorful language but you get the idea.
Why the rush?
I get the privilege of working with kids and families of all ages and our current push for our children to “excel” to “succeed” to be “gifted” or “special” is causing stress. Lots of stress on our kids. It is a well known fact that cortical level increases is correlated with increased stress and increased stress in childhood is correlated with a number of health issues in adulthood. What constitutes stress in childhood still remains undefined. I believe that this push for success causes harm and is enough stress to cause long-term problems. When you add the stress of (unrealistic) expectations on our children to the environmental, birth and social stresses already inherent in our environment, I believe it is a recipe for disaster.
So what is the answer?
Relax. Relax as a parent. Let your children play. They will learn. Don’t worry. Reduce your stress. Model a healthy, balanced life for your children and enjoy life. Avoid stress, physical, chemical and emotional in your, and your child’s, life. Create a healthy environment for birth. Trust. If your child is 2, 3, 4, 5…even 6, 7 or 8 and they can’t read, read to them. Foster the love of the story. Listen to books on tape. Build with them. Love them. Don’t compare. The world is full of opportunities for fun, to learn.
Stress in childhood is all too real. Give our children back their lives and their future and let them BE. Their health depends on it.
Book recommendation (although not about the stress of education is a great book about the effects of stress in infancy and toddlerhood): Scared Sick