I’m the first to admit I’m really competitive. And I’d like N to be more so. Maybe if he was, he’d be more bothered to achieve more. But he just wants to do things right – which for him, and me, because he’s happy which is the most important thing, works out well. Thankfully he manages to do ok, he just does it his way. But I’m all too familiar with the impatience for our children’s learning progress to be faster.
I had a recent chat with my best friend about swimming. She wanted to know how fast N progressed because she was frustrated that it seemed to be slow going. N is not the example to be giving because he took 6 years to swim 10 metres unaided! But he’s doing really well now and hopefully I was able to put her mind at ease.
Where does impatience over learning progress come from?
Baby led but not child led
Nowadays baby led is often seen as a good way to bring up babies. Most people probably use what works for them. I know I wanted to have a routine, but it ended up with N working out his own routine and we just went with the flow because it worked with our days.
I’d say within boundaries we’re still fairly child led about certain things. But others we need to stick to a routine to get things done. But with children’s progress it’s hard not to measure
Judgement and peer pressure
I’m not one to let judgement get to me. Listening to others getting bullied and pushed by family and friends to parent (or blog) in certain ways, I’ve been lucky in that none of my friends have ever told me to do things a different way. But however much you ignore it, as a parent you usually have some kind of expectation when you see others’ children achieving things that maybe you think yours should be doing too. SATs and Early Years testing and assessments add fuel to that.
For my best friend and I, we were both high fliers at school. We’ve both done well at work, got on with life and don’t tend to struggle with academia or trying new things. So it’s hard to remember what It’s like learning when you start school. Added to that, what they learn at school is so much more structured than it was when we were there.
So finding things easy yourself, can make you put pressure on timings and expectations for your children.
Lack of feedback
When children are younger and at day nurseries or preschool, we get lots of feedback on a daily basis. What the children have been up to, learning journals, and we’re able to ask questions every time we pick up. But once children are at school, however great the school is at feeding back, and giving parents the opportunity to ask questoins and meet the teacher about any concerns. that feedback is severely restricted. We only tend to hear about any problems, but it’s hard to tell how they should be getting on at certain stages and how they’re doing versus their peers. Obviously we shouldn’t compare, but it gives a good guide.
Happy kids make progress
For me, it’s been hard seeing N taking his time with swimming, tennis, reading and writing. I know he performs best when he does things in his own time, when he wants to. He’s always been text book in his development and I’m sure he’ll continue to do so.
Yes he wasn’t interested in reading and still isn’t unless it’s something he really wants to find out about (food packets and menus but not books), and it took him until year 2 for it to really click. But he can read sufficiently well at the moment and I just need to keep encouraging him.
Writing was also something he wasn’t interested in formally. But he loves (starting) writing pages and pages of story, and enjoys handwriting. He’s also spot on with his grammar. But creative writing and actually finishing something he’s started…I feel for his school teachers.
With tennis it’s a slog. He really enjoys it, but he’s not a natural sportsman. He needs to work at it. But if N has found a sport to be a hobby for life, I’m happy.
As for swimming, he’d do anything to not have to do lessons, but once he’s there he enjoys them and works hard. His aim is to get through level 5 so he can give up lessons, so he’s aiming for that. And in the meantime is turning into a nice (if not fast) technically able swimmer.
What we parents need to remember is that development isn’t a continuous upward progress curve. There’s ups and downs, growth spurts get in the way, as well as hormonal times, family and friendship issues. Plus sometimes kids just need to spend time at a plateau reinforcing what they’re learning before moving up the next upwards trajectory.
With swimming I had to reassure my friend that her son was doing fine.
If your child loves the water that’s one positive.
If they try hard and listen to the teacher that’s another.
It doesn’t matter what other children are doing – you don’t know If their parents are both former champion swimmers who take their children swimming twice a week outside of lessons.
Remember that their child who’s amazing at swimming might be terrible at school studies while that might be your child’s forte.
It’s so hard to remember these things when you’re so invested in your child, and want them to do so well.
I think the main thing to remember is if they’re happy, they’re likely to continue to progress because they’ll apply themselves to the things they enjoy.
How do you get over these thoughts? Is children’s learning progress something you really worry about?
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