My girls, ages 5 and 2, so far show no signs of precocious genius. Neither of them can read, write more than a few words or do long division in her head. They don’t play violin, perform Shakespeare from memory or beat me at chess.
Next to a lot of my friends precocious little geniuses, they look kinda dumb. And I’m OK with that.
MomLogic has a great piece on the annoying toddler parents who simply do go on about what brilliant, accomplished people their two-year-olds are. I’m sure I’m guilty of any number of parenting sins, but at least teaching my kids a lot of Stupid Human Tricks isn’t on the list.
Mostly, my girls play. When they get tired or bored, they watch one of the half dozen DVDs we own. They like to help me cook and garden. Left to their own devices, which they often are, they’ll play dress-up and ride their bikes all day.
There are any number of parenting philosophies that support my approach. I’m a free-range parent, a slow parent, an attachment parent, a Waldorf parent. There’s a ton of research showing that in early childhood, kids benefit most from a lot of unstructured play, and that cramming their heads with facts doesn’t do anyone much good. The truth is I am also a lazy parent who cannot be bothered to structure every moment of my day, let alone my kids’ days.
So we float along. This life has taught them decent manners. They’re both astonishingly verbal, and will have very intense conversations with anyone who will sit still near them. They’re creative and brave. They seem, to my untutored eye, happy.
I’ve seen three-year-old’s who “spontaneously” learned to read after several hours a day of coaching by eager parents, and babies who can sign more effectively than I can. I have friends who’ve taught their toddlers to identify not only the name but also the genus of every animal in a picture book. “Yes, that is a mammal! Good Job!”
Those kids all seem happy, too. I don’t think it’s a bad thing to teach your child a lot of facts when they’re tiny, as long as everyone recognizes that for what it is: a cute hobby. If your hobby is teaching your kid to memorize types of dinosaurs, more power to you.
But you certainly shouldn’t feel bad if its not. Having a two-year-old who can tell the difference between a pteranadon and a pteradactyl is a cute party trick, but it doesn’t mean your kid is a genius, or that mine isn’t. It means you spent more time teaching her the names for different types of dinosaurs.
I really, really doubt my kids will sit me down ages and ages hence when they’re adults and tell me they wish they’d spent more of their preschool years with flashcards and less of it planting flowers.
Photo: lost thoughts