In my many, many years of working with preschoolers, I have found there is absolutley no shortage of hopes and dreams that parents hold for their children’s future. Parents are forever to be commended when they proactively advocate for their children. I would much rather know parents who are over the top in their desires for successful futures than those who are disinterested. I worry for children whose parents are so overwhelmed they can’t put their priorities in place and take time for their children. To those parents, I say, please get help. Your children need you, every step of the way.
That said, I must admit, there are times that our aspirations as young parents get ahead of the game and planning a two-year-old’s path to attend Harvard would fall into that category. If, as a parent of a young learner, you are quietly thinking, “Oh, that’s me”, please catch your breath and don’t miss the beautiful journey in front of you.
I met a young parent, who was touring our school, tell me her two year old son was going to go to Harvard. She was looking for a highly academic school to begin his journey in education. She wanted to know what ABC sheets she should be using to help him along. I smiled and replied, “We don’t use worksheets here. We teach through play and play is our children’s work, everyday.”
She was stunned and said, “I don’t understand. Your school was highly recommended to me. I am disappointed.” I nodded and thanked her but told her our understanding of child development did not support the use of worksheets in the preschool setting (at least not before the age of four) and I was pretty sure our school would be a disappointment to her and the goals she had set for her child. She thanked me for my honestly and left in search of an “academic” preschool.
In that conversation, I knew I didn’t have time to explain all that I knew to be true about early childhood development but I want to take one minute to share with you. Everyone, including adults, takes in information in the world through the senses. Seeing. Hearing. Tasting. Smelling. Touching. The more senses that are engaged, the stronger the learning opportunity.
Children need time to learn representational thought–letters and numbers. There is so much work to do first, learning concretely, before that begins. Giving young children hands-on, play-based and interest-based experiences is really imperative for their healthy growth as preschoolers.
So, in a nutshell, please don’t plan your two-year-old’s educational path through college. You will constantly be stressed and will probably be disappointed time and time again. You might miss what he/she is interested in learning so you can support who he/she is becoming, everyday.
Stay in the present. Plan activities for the day that provide age-appropriate, healthy, sensory based learning. You will be glad you did. I promise!
Have a great day.
See you tomorrow.