I remember vividly the first kindergarten visit with both of our children. Each of them were happy to go; they got an idea of what school would be like and began to look forward to the experience. Fortunately, they were oblivious to the competitive nature of the parents on that day. On both occasions I heard a lot of comments like “my son knows his alphabet” or “my daughter learned to swim when she was three”. This can feel really intimidating particularly if it is your first child. It was for me. I wondered if my child would keep up.
Since then I’ve met so many children and watched them grow up. My own children, my nieces, and many of my children’s friends. Let me assure all you Moms out there… There will be bumps along the way and they will be okay!!
A couple of years after the kindergarten visits, I had the fortunate experience of being a Roots of Empathy Instructor which was great for so many reasons. One of the wonderful things about the program is that we teach children who are 6 years old and learning to read about babies and how they develop. A baby regularly visits the class with his/her mother. When we talk about what the baby can do we never say the baby cannot walk, cannot talk, or cannot crawl. If the children ask “Can the baby talk, ” the answer is always “Not yet.” Can the baby walk? “Not yet.” Can the baby crawl? “Not yet.” And on the flip side we can talk about something 6 year olds can relate to: learning to read. Can all the children in the class read? “Not yet.” These 5 and 6 year old children begin to understand that they are each on their own journey and that journey happens at its own pace. There are no comparisons and no judgements.
Each and every child who enters my preschool class comes in with enormous potential. I can always find strengths in every child I have met. Those strengths are what we build on. And I have complete faith that they will get to where they need to be. To me what children really need is our love, our support and our unending faith in them to go on their journey and take it at their own pace. They need to know that we believe they will make it and that we appreciate and nurture the strengths they bring to the world. And they need the opportunity to tackle a problem independently.
So each time you notice that your child is a little behind one of his or her peers, remember this: We are all on our own journey. Trust that given time, your child will get there.