In this fast paced world of seemingly limitless technology at our fingertips, inundation of media and high stress living we’re all motivated by one thing: the urge to get it right. The urge to succeed so that we can get life ‘right’. What is newest, most advanced, and earns us the most attention keeps us on the cutting edge of getting it right and advances us in a way that will surely guarantee our success in the future.
We want to get it right.
We’ve adopted the belief that the further you can get ahead, and the sooner, the better. This is very apparent when working with parents as every parent’s desire to help their child succeed is paramount in their lives. And in today’s day and age it’s not hard to find copious information and research on what’s “best” for your child’s development, and what will ultimately put them ahead.
Where we run into trouble is when children are “forced” or “pushed” into advancement rather than nurtured. It is no secret that every child develops at their own pace; but with the way our society is evolving, are they developing fast enough. That is to say, are they developing at a rate that as parents and educators we can feel is indicative of their future success.
After her son, age 8, handed in a written assignment for his drama program, a mother, out of the goodness of her heart, told me that “his writing is atrocious but because of his Tourette Syndrome it’s the best it will ever be”. I was new to teaching, and new to working with children with educational barriers but it struck me as being odd that this was something I needed to consider. This was a drama class, not an english class, and I was just excited that he had engaged in the material enough to actually do the assignment! If writing was involved I was prepared to take what I could get because I knew it was what he could give. I also thought, I’m sure most people with illegible handwriting still get drivers licenses and jobs and pay their taxes.
More often than ever we find ourselves in conversations with parents about moving their child ahead in our classes, asking why their advanced 3 year old, cannot be placed in the 5 year old program. I always meet this question with an understanding that every parent is looking to give their child the best opportunity possible. However, sometimes the best opportunity to give them is a chance to be the age they are, to meet the needs of their whole development at the stage they are at. Our star pupil may be able to tap two sticks together in time, but perhaps he needs development in his social skills. Every child has areas they are working on, some that we may not even notice.
The articles below talk about Developmentally Appropriate Practice which is an educational philosophy that strives to help children develop in a way that meets their current needs. It engages young learners in a meaningful way that encourages excitement and passion for learning, and if young children possess that, there will be no stopping their future success.
This article concisely parallels nurturing physical milestones and how we can apply the same ideas to other developmental milestones
This article outlines Developmentally Appropriate Practice (DAP)
And while this article will speak to some and not to others I felt it touched on the very important topics of body wisdom and building self confidence.
By: Stefanie Swinnard for Kids New West
Find Stefanie at The Stage New Westminster, a performing arts company for children and youth.