A question that comes up often amongst parents relates to children who are very bright. Some youngsters begin to read at three or four years old, and are quite proficient by the time they start school. The present generation is being raised with the computers, the Internet, and even some outstanding educational programming on television.
Naturally, parents worry that their children may be bored with the regular school programming. Sometimes this poses a real dilemma: the parents may wish to seek out specialized programs for their children, while the children may wish to remain in their neighborhood school with their friends.
My answer to this dilemma includes the following considerations:
1) If a child is exceptionally bright, he or she will be functioning beyond even specialized school programming. The knowledge that such a child has gained will have come from the home environment, and there is no reason why that should not continue.
2) If the child is intrinsically motivated to learn, his or her interests will create a drive to learn more and more.
3) I believe it is a parental responsibility to open the world of learning to children; schools can only do so much. Information is increasing so rapidly that it is impossible for schools to keep pace; they will have to focus on basics.
4) The happiness and well-being of the child should take precedence. If a major selling job is required for the child to do what the parent wants educationally, take time for second thoughts. Sometimes even young children know what is best for themselves.
The same principles apply to extra-curricular activities. If the child enjoys them and looks forward to them, then the experience is positive. If the child dreads them and fusses about going and/or practicing, it is time to take stock.
Childhood really should be a time of fun and ease: there will be enough stress later on. There is a fine line between providing guidance and opportunities to our children, and molding them into who we think they should be. If we do not listen to them from early on and do not really tune in to what they are trying to tell us, then eventually they will rebel, or simply stop communicating with us.
Eighteen years go by very fast. A child who is heard, respected and honored throughout those years will be a success in the broadest sense of the word, regardless of the specifics of educational programming. That is what we must remember.
Gwen Randall-Young is an author and award-winning Psychotherapist. For permission to reprint this article, or to obtain books or CDs, visit www.gwen.ca