Is Your Child Behind or Ahead?
Do you worry about your child falling behind? Do you wish your child were ahead? I would like to help you change your thought process.
What is it your child would be behind or ahead of? All the other children? You are judging your child based on a standard that some people very far away decided is best for your child – without even knowing him!
State standards and Common Core were designed to help make sure nobody falls behind. The aim is to essentially create one product. All children the same. All standard. All common.
I would never want my child to be standard or common. There's so much more to life!
I'm pretty sure we all want our children to be extraordinary. As in outside ordinary. This is harder to accomplish if our goals are within the common standards. To fully respect the capabilities and needs of each student, our expectations of our children should be as individual as they are.
I never used set curriculum with my children. I allowed them to learn at their own pace. From time to time, I would be curious and I would take a look at state standards. I was always surprised to discover how close we were to those standards. What I learned is that the standards is really a list of things a child is CAPABLE of doing at different stages. There is no magic there. Unless your child has learning disabilities, he will often be at the right level without even trying.
One of the best parts about individualized expectations for every student is your child is never behind! You can have him work on just what he needs at each moment, regardless of what all the other children are doing. HE IS NEVER BEHIND!
Let's admit that every child has weaknesses. That's OK! Every child also has strengths. That's also OK! In the same way we allow our child to get ahead, we need to respect his timeline and allow him to get behind. IT IS OK!
It's a fallacy that if a child falls behind in his grades he can never get caught up. One of my sons was intimidated by long division as a child. I didn't insist he learn it. Finally when he was 17 he decided to teach it to himself. It was easy to learn at that age and the only mystifying thing about the experience was he his confusion over why children are forced to learn it at such a young age. Learning it later did not slow him down. He did just fine in his high school and college math classes.
See, the problem is, when you start worrying about how your child compares to all others, that usually only means you don't want him to fall behind. Then you spend your resources helping your child overcome his weaknesses. For many students, this is hard, unwelcome work.
But what about his strengths? Traditional schools generally don't really care if a child is capable of moving ahead in some areas. That is the least of their concerns.
My same son is a graphic artist. He discovered this talent as a young teenager. Before he was 18, he had already done professional graphic work. He would not have had the time to do increase this talent if I had insisted that he spend his extra time working on his math weakness.