Once again John Rosemond is the voice of reason in his Weekly Column (8/17/2010). Do we really need an expert to tell parents, and in this case grandparents, that it's alright for a 4 year old not to want to write his name or anything else for that matter? Has the importance of play been discarded altogether? When did flashcards replace mud puddles? When exactly did we decide that letting a child have a moment to think his own thoughts was a waste of time? We are doing our kids and especially our boys a great disservice by expecting things of them they are not ready for. Reading is a stretch for many boys even in the first grade, we'd get better results and the process would be easier for most of them if we let them wait until later. The fine motor skills needed for writing isn't developed enough at 4 in most boys to make that a reasonable expectation and add to that the fact that they are required to sit and be quiet and still for hours on end (with many schools shortening and in some cases doing away with recess) and we are setting them up for frustration if not failure.
In this scenario the child has more sense than the adults. Rosemond also endorses an excellent book that I consider a must for parents, The Hurried Child by David Elkind. I recommend it because if parents would pay attention to what he has to say, children could be saved from much damage and frustration at the hands of overzealous, misinformed adults. And would it really be so bad if not only children, but their parents slowed down and took a moment to breathe, think, or converse someplace besides in the car on the way to soccer practice?
Many experts warn parents that some of these pursuits are too ambitious and in some cases harmful, but the calls for restraint seem to be going unheard. Does a preschooler need French? Does a middle-schooler really need a personal coach? I can't help but wonder if childhood has gotten more competitive or if parenting just has.