It is come to the time where I as a teacher must complete twenty report cards. I have never been at a loss for words to provide my insight into a child’s progress. There is so much personality and development going on in these early years. At this time I am struck by the remarkable way kids grow and change.
Before I complete one card on one of my students. I will vent by writing my own report of the progress of Early Childhood. Currently how are we as parents, teachers, friends, family, doing to support the Early Child? Do we allow them to be kids? Are they confident as they “grow up? Are we applying Developmentally Appropriate Practices that is learning opportunities that match the development of the child?
Here are a few prefaces. First, I am not an Early Childhood Specialist. I don’t even have a degree in Early Childhood. What’s more I have only been a mom for nearly six years. I am no doctor either. My experience- mainly just teaching kids mainly in those Early childhood years. I won’t even bore readers with theories of Piaget or Erickson. I shall simply give my two cents.
One more preface. I write and offer my opinion. Many I know will totally disagree with me. I appologize for striking a bad cord.
Currently our school report card has various benchmarks in the various subject areas. My benchmark areas for the Early Childhood Report Card are Social, Emotional, Cognitive, Fine Motor, and Gross Motor Development. I am considering the practices of today and do they help develop a confident child in these areas? Every area counts. Not one more important over the other but all just as equally important in a child’s development.
Social Development: I give us a D or a rating of experiencing difficulty. Yeah, we allow our kids to socialize. The practice has been that it starts with play dates but all too quickly it evolves into activities such as dance, karate, soccer, chess, basketball, mad science, hockey- I am sure there are several others to add to the list. When I was younger- age 6 or so, I was in Busy Bees. We met at a neighborhood house and did various projects- similiar to Girl Scouts. One thing that was it. Because the rest of the time I was playing libary, school, grocery store, making forts, or making cakes on the Easy Bake Oven with Suzie or Heidi. My play time was sacred and that in itself allowed me to grow socially.
D because the play time is being taken away and there is no time for it because there is a schedule of activities to meet. At soccer and dance, you socialize and have fun. And when you are home – you are too tired to have a round of marbles or kick the can, so you are off to the Wii or whatever it is called. ( We do not own one nor do we intend too) D because playtime should be the main part of the Early Child’s life not a supplement or an after thought.
Emotional Development: This area gets a rating of C-. The self assurance and character of a child depends much on their emotional state.This is ignored. We push ahead or forward without considering the state of the child’s emotions and their ability to handle certain situations. These days situations happen earlier than later. Ear piercing begins not at 16 when I had mine done but as early as infancy. OUCH! Okay maybe for some its a cultural thing.
Peer pressure comes immediately to mind not just can they deal with someone daring them to jump off the top of a slide on the playground either. The next thing that comes to mind is tears, tantrums, and meltdowns. This ranges from what happens if their ice cream cone top falls and melts to what happens if they get laughed at for wearing clothes that clash. But also can they handle a spelling test in first grade? How about leaving you- the parent for a bus ride to school for the whole entire day and then coming back on the bus? My Thanks to Miss Terry who found me asleep on the bus upon coming home from school one day and missed my bus stop for home – maybe I was in first grade??? No Thanks to my older Brother who was supposed to look out for me when he got off the bus. Or How about can the child handle not getting their way, or taking turns, or things not going just right?
We all too easily think our kids can handle something that they are just not ready to handle. Therefore, no spiderman for my almost four year old. He is too sensitive. He can’t decipher yet what is real or imaginary. ( And the way movies are these days- I don’t think I can handle it without turning every light on in the house after watching….)
Therefore, no painting plates at the mudroom for my daughter. Too dainty and meticulous. At five, it’s not about being dainty- it is about being dramatic and exploratory.
C- because on average I think we provide some experiences too soon they have had a chance to grow more secure in themselves.
Motor skills: We do allow for physical activity for developing gross motor skills. I mean there is a lot of karate and hockey playing and football going on. Those structured activities do provide some good development. But I give the gross motor a B- because we need to pay attention to the build and size of their bodies. We need to provide the exercise that they can handle to develop gross motor wise. Let them run, climb, skip, hop, swing, etc. Then when they weigh 50-60 pounds and can handle all of that and be tackled- okay- football it is! Exercise kind of play much needed over the structured sports in the early child.
Fine motor wise- Does the working of an I-pad or WII remote control count? How many of us have our kids do the old fashioned cutting, gluing, or sewing card? I am a little stumped on this one as far as a grade.. I do think kids would be better fine motor wise if they colored, drew, wrote, scissor cut, sewed, knitted, whatever -more than operating a remote control whatever. Tough in these day of the Jetsons to actually make our fingers work.
Cognitive: I could get on a real soap box here. If I really spilled the beans on my thoughts, I may have to go into the witness protection program. I would not give our practice an A. Maybe another B minus. Some of this is not our fault. Curriculum has been pushed down and we are forced to teach things that are not right for the age we teach. Yet it is our fault when we expect something over the head of the young child. It is our fault when we forget – hey they are just kids right now. It is important to weigh activities as appropriate or not. Worksheet or drama center? Play dough or color by number? Singing or Sentence Dictation. Spider in the Web or Tackle Football? Reading groups or just lets look at books right now? Two digit addition or working with higher sets of manipulatives?
All and all we aren’t doing too well in our Developmentally Appropriate Practices. I know I have room for improvement. In this fast society there is a hurry up mentality. Hurry up and Grow! Suggestions are to take one day at a time with our children. We shouldn’t be afraid to use the phrase- you need to wait until you are older. ”
My son has been very interested in jungles lately. All the animal life in the jungle is especially interesting to him. He asked one day- “Can we visit the jungle sometime?’
I said “yes, when you are older.”
He understood why. I happened to have visited the jungle for the first time at age 36- when I was really grown up and ready. I even went zip lining. Not sure I would do it again. I think I actually prayed I would make it out alive. The jungle was sure adventurous. We even saw the fresh footprint of a jaguar. It was a jungle! The real thing. Our son is counting the days until he can go to the jungle. But at four years old- He must wait until he is older.
Much like this world- it is a jungle out there- give it time for them to grow and develop- decide what they can or can’t handle. Age appropriate activities are so key!
We cannot afford to lose their childhood. If we take that away from them by giving them experiences too soon or opportunities that are not age appropriate then, we are ridding them of crucial learning to be more confident, creative, and independent.
Thanks for reading!