When you have a baby or toddler, the development leaps and the amount they learn is huge each month. Then once they’re older, at school, those milestones slow down. Or rather, they don’t slow down, but they’re more gradual, and there’s fewer large obvious milestones for them to complete.
- Learning to ride a bike – tick, age 4
- Starting school – tick, age 4 ¾
- Losing the first tooth – tick, age 5 (tooth 8 now wobbly a year later!)
Then there’s the surprising things that children just get on with a do, and it’s a surprise when you realise how far they’ve come, and how actually not all children at that age can do it.
N’s always been good at driving and steering vehicles. But then he’s always had ride on toys from age 1, progressing to a balance bike, scooters and pedal bikes generally ahead of his peers. He now has his own quad bike (with growing room), and while he’s had 3 years of practising driving his gator, I was still surprised to see him reversing the quad bike into the garage – inbetween a lot of junk. That’s a lot of control for a 6 year old!
I was also amazed a few months ago when I challenged him to count backwards down from 20, and he told me it was too easy, and proceeded to count backwards from 100 in 5s. Ok, I know he likes maths, but he’s not a maths genius. I’d just never have thought a 5 year old could do things like that. They seem to learn so much more at an early age without really trying compared to what we knew back at the same age (apart from reading, I was pretty hot on reading ability)
But what at age 6?
N has been on a huge development burst this month and it’s been great to see. Some of those thing he’s been struggling with have all of a sudden happened. Alongside him shooting up – 3cm grown in the last couple of months.
Tying shoe laces
We’ve tried the curly elasticated shoe laces before but N struggled with how springy they are and found it too hard to loosen them to get the shoes on. So back in February I dug out our shoe lace shoe for him to practice on. We decided that the easy way was confusing (plus makes it harder to untie the laces), and the double bunny ears was too fiddly. So it was back to the straight way of doing laces. He was just about getting it, but then didn’t practice for ages because he didn’t have any shoes with laces. My son only does the things he needs to!
But his latest pair of trainers had shoe laces. Not out of choice, we chose 6 pairs of trainers to try in the shop, but the only ones with velcro weren’t available in his size. So laces it was. And it was time to relearn so the poor teachers and after school club wouldn’t have to spend time doing up his laces along with other children in the class who can’t do them up.
The challenge was on, particularly because I wanted him to get a bit competitive and be the first of his year to do them. (I’d also told him back at his birthday that he should learn to do them age 6, in preparation for having feet of a size where velcro is hard to come by on shoes).
Within a day, he could do up laces. I think it took 2 or 3 goes. Of course it’s hard to tie them tight enough so they don’t come undone, but he’s grasping that better now. His uncle’s given him tips as well on wrapping the end around the loop nearer the shoe than half way up. But he’s proud of being able to do them up.
I’ve shared N’s swimming journey from the start. Through water wobbles, through moving up from Water Babies and into normal swimming lessons. It’s been rocky, and after 6 years of lessons, he finally swam a width (under duress and a lot of encouragement from me) slowly on his front a couple of months ago.
But swimming on his back has been a nightmare. He just doesn’t seem to float, even though he knows he just needs to lift his tummy up to the ceiling. He’s never been in lessons when they’ve done their badge swims, so I’ve never seen him try in his lessons without a swim belt on (apart from when they take it off to do diving for items). When I’ve taken him swimming myself he just won’t try to swim on his back or even float without support. We’d tried without goggles, with goggles, and nothing was working to encourage him to try. Even him knowing that all the younger children in the class below him can do their 10 metres on front and back unaided didn’t encourage him.
But this Saturday at his lesson, after the warm up swimming doing glides, his teacher took off his swim belt. They did diving down first of all which he loves and then it was a lesson all on backs. Uh oh, I thought. But he didn’t flinch, he just got on with it.
First of all swimming on backs with one float under the arm to practice one arm at a time. And then on their backs, using both arms, and no floats. Ok, he put his feet down sometimes, mainly because he gets disoriented and worried about bumping his head at the end. But he swam most of the lesson with no float.
It helped so much only having 3 of them in the lesson (compared with the 8 or 9 they usually have), and the teacher was in the pool with them for some of it. N definitely likes a quieter class.
So my little boy can finally swim unaided. Hopefully next week he’ll cope with being on his front with no swim belt and it’ll just be a case of getting his strength up to be able to do the whole lesson comfortably. My aim for him was to be able to swim unaided by the time he was in year 2 and swimming with the school. And he’s cracked that.
It might have taken 6 years of lessons but he’s got it and hopefully it’ll give him more confidence to show that the hard work he’s put in now means he’s closer to not needing lessons anymore. I’m sure he’ll be asking me each week when he can stop lessons, but he’s not getting away with that for a while yet!
Now I’m wondering what else he’s going to achieve in the next few months. Because 6 so far has looked pretty good.
What big milestones have your children been hitting recently?