Why Is My Child Learning So SLOWLY?

Hearty greetings from the pen of Teacher Suzannah! :)

This morning, I sat in class listening to my awesome lecturer… she knows all the early childhood theorists and their theories like the back of her hand.  And out of the blue, she threw this scenario at us:

My own son, when he was the age to be going to childcare, I played with him.  I didn’t give him stacks of worksheets, I didn’t teach him extra things at home.  I just played with my boys.  One day, his teacher came up to me when I went to pick him up and she said, “Mrs. P-, I have a concern for your son.  He cannot count from one to twenty.”  He was only four years old.  I said, “It’s okay.  Don’t worry.  I’m not worried!  When he’s ready, he will do it.”

*astonished gasps from some of my classmates who are mothers, at her calmness*

And he did, when he was ready.  What did I do?  Nothing; just waited for him to be ready and supported him.  Now he’s doing very well.  In university.

And then turning it right around at us, she asked,

Okay, whose theory is that?  What is the name of the theory?

I don’t expect to repeat the lectures I have sat through from my Human Growth and Development Module, but I don’t think it will hurt to learn just one theory that would help you anyway, right?  So here we go.  Now, I’m not a lecturer, I’m a fun-loving early childhood teacher; consequently, my lecture is going to be an unconventional one… (i.e., not like those I’ve slept through in my months in course already, oops!)

One of the men who contributed to our knowledge in the field of early childhood was a nice fellow called Arnold Gesell.  In the course of observing children, a thought struck him.  (Okay well, I don’t know if that was how it happened, but anyway…)  He theorized that in each and every one of us, there is a sort of internal timeline.  A sort of internal timeline that has been preset and unchangeable.  Let’s look at an example:

age 1–says first word   age 2–says name    age 3–2-word sentences   age 4–knows some alphabet

_____|____________________|____________________|____________________|____________________

If you subscribe to Gesell’s theory (I do!), you will take it for granted (I have!) that if this child can only begin to say some of the alphabet at age four (and this is true of some children), he will begin to say them when he is four years old, and there is no use in hurrying him… he will develop according to that timeline.

>> What this means for us <<

This means, that the child is “scheduled” to be able to do certain things at certain times in his life.  And because this timing varies from one child to another, we also err if we compare them.  (Here I inject one of my pet policies: Only compare a child’s performance with his own; never with that of another child).  This means that we are required to the thing we find the most difficult to do:  be patient and wait and support them until they are ready.

I don’t think we need to go into the theoretical details today.  I’ll just leave you with the most important message:

Often, our children will seem slow to us.  Don’t hurry your child.  Let him develop at his own pace while he can (which thing is hard enough to do because of the fast-paced system they will have to keep up with in primary school!).

Well, to round off our story for today, Gesell decided that his wonderful discovery would go by the deserving and befittingly awe-inspiring name, Maturation Theory.  Anyway, if you get nothing else out of this newsletter, you’ll be able to repeat this to someone and inform them that this is early childhood educational theory. :D

I’ll be back soon, perhaps tomorrow, with enough theoretical facts and figures to please even my lecturer! :)  Thank you for reading!

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