The expectations on children attending school have become exceedingly high since my childhood years. I was recently made aware of these expectations because my 3 ½ year old is moving to the “Academic Three’s Class.” Anya has been going to daycare/private school since she was a baby. A decision I grappled with for a long time. Minus a few scraps, and my own motherhood neuroses, for the most part daycare has been a pleasant experience for the both of us. However, I was taken aback when I learned that there were a few rules for the Academic Three’s. Rule 1, all students must wear uniforms; Rule 2, I have to order books for her because she will have homework; Rule 3, if she arrives after 9:05 am three times in a 30 day period than she is suspended. I was not thrilled with these rules, to say the least. I agree that children should receive the best education possible, and I also believe that parents should never underestimate their children, but isn’t three a little young for homework?
This situation has made me question, whether we are pushing our children too hard? Are we allowing them to be children or are we taking away the fun of childhood? How much is too much? One of our responsibilities as parents is to expose our children to as much as possible and ensure that they receive a quality education. However, it is equally as important that they explore through play, imagination, and creative outlets. It is disturbing that children are under such pressure to succeed. They are not adults regardless of how mature they may seem for their age, they are children and deserve to have a childhood.
With a new school year around the corner, kid’s schedules will quickly fill up. It has become common for children to be on overload with academics and extracurricular activities. Are they well rounded or over booked? In order to answer this we have to take a good look at our children’s interest, temperament, and how much they can handle. Are they enjoying these activities or do they feel pressure to participate, because that is what is expected of them? We may find ourselves reaching back to our own youth and reminiscing about unfulfilled dreams and then project them onto our children. We must respect and accept that our kids have their own unique personality, desires, and goals.
Here are some steps to protect your children from overload:
Research the School – We do our research when purchasing a home or car, we should be just as diligent when researching the school they will be attending. Examine the curriculum, the expectations for students, the activities the offer, become acquainted with their teachers, and try to determine if your child is a good fit.
Know What Your Child’s Interests Are – Discovering what your children’s interests are can save a lot of money, time, and frustration. Zone in on their likes and help them find activities that encourage their interests. If your child is happy they will succeed naturally.
Talk to Your Kids – Keep an open dialogue with your kids. Let them know you are interested in their life and they can come to you in any circumstance. If they are feeling under pressure they will be more likely to tell you if your door is open. Ask them if they are taking on too much if they say yes, then discuss the situation and work on a solution together.
Encourage Creativity- Creativity is its own type of education. Education happens in and out of the classroom. When a child taps into their creativity they may get closer to their God given spiritual gifts which leads them to their purpose. God’s purpose fulfilled in our lives is the only real success that matters.
Be Observant – If your child is taking on a hefty load pay attention to their mood. If you notice depression, agitation, or fatigue then address the situation. Use your intuition, if something seems wrong than it probably is.
Instill a Sense of Self Value – I can’t stress enough how crucial it is to instill in a child that they are of infinite value, created by our Father in his image, more valuable than any honor roll or football team. Teach them that their worth is not tied up in their achievements. They do not have to be anything other than what they are and they are loved unconditionally.
Upon careful consideration I have decided to allow Anya to attend her new class. After speaking to teachers and other parents at my daughter’s school, I was assured that there would be plenty of creative play time. Also, even though they stress academics, they were appropriate for her age, and they understood the importance of a three year old being a three year old.
Encourage your child to do well but also encourage them to be a kid. Childhood only comes around once.
Copyright © Chere Williams, Moms of Faith, All Rights Reserved