As a parent, it is our duty to make sure that we provide everything in our power for our children to have the best life possible. This includes learning and providing education. But sometimes we get enveloped in the “superbaby” syndrome, where we are not only pushing our child to do well – but to be better than everyone else.
We play Mozart for our womb (hello “pregaphone”), draw up “lesson plans” for our newborns during maternity (come on, you know who you are), purchase books out the wazoo, put iPads on our credit cards, ruminate over the best daycare, sell our spacious house (for ZERO profit) just to move into an apartment in the best school district (especially, you ATLANTA), purchase hundreds of flash cards, and order “Your Baby Can Read” when the commercial comes on during your 3am feeding (yes, my daughter had the entire set thanks to daddy).
By the time of their first birthday - we become as anxious about our child recognizing colors as we are about choosing the next car seat.
As understandable as this is, most is unnecessary. There is no research that supports the notion that children who display academic skills ahead of the curve (ex: reading before entering kindergarten) continue to have a “leg up” on his peers. Truth is, once the other kids enter school and are taught the essentials, they tend to catch up around 2nd or 3rd grade. So, yes we have reason to become fixated on finding the right elementary school but we go overboard with math pop quizzes for a 3 year old. One of the reasons is that young children are always learning – especially from their environment, they are learning the basics of communication, socialization, and trusting that their basic needs will be consistently met. When surveyed, most “gifted” children are not specifically the ones who were injected into early learning but those whom injected themselves. Naturally gifted children tend to be the ones initiating learning, seeking out academic activities on their own.
Aside from bragging rights for mommy and daddy, you’re not really creating massive benefits. What children are learning are social norms, manners, and emotional intelligence – which if learned incorrectly, is hard to unlearn (just ask the 5th grader who is still biting his classmates). So, should we become anxious over our toddler’s ability to answer Jeopardy questions and play Scrabble – NO. BUT - we need to pay attention to how we, as parents and their other caregivers (especially daycare staff, grandparents, older siblings), conduct ourselves in front of our little ones. Even during flashcard sessions with your two year old – she is learning more by noticing your uninterrupted love, without cell phones, and your tone (i.e. reframing from getting angry when she answers “blue” when you ask her how many apples there are in the basket)...
***Interesting info on the false claims of "Your Baby Can Read": http://www.ftc.gov/news-events/press-releases/2012/08/ads-touting-your-baby-can-read-were-deceptive-ftc-complaint
Our Guest Blogger, Cherrell Thomas, is a professional counselor, licensed by the state of Georgia and certified by the national board of counselors. With over 7 years in the field, Cherrell has experience in multiple areas of mental health.
Through her private practice, HELPFUL THERAPY CENTER LLC, she promotes the power of inner resiliency and encourages her clients to define their own "happy". However, she may have met her match in her three year old daughter who is teaching her everyday about life, parenting, and the struggle for sanity.
Follow along as we uncover the myths in a candid conversation, only a Mama can identify.
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