Accessing a quality education is an extremely important achievement for families today as it has been since formal education began. However, and interestingly, the competition faced by students and the demands to stand out and excel continue to increase and become active at younger ages every year. This directly conflicts with postmodern focus on supporting and encouraging our youngsters regardless of their level of success or achievements. Trophies are being given out at previously unheard of rates and many youngsters receive them simply for participating in the sport. In addition, many sports are not even scored, a winner is not celebrated and no one is deemed to be a loser. Graduation ceremonies and celebrations are happening for children who complete kindergarten, teachers are encourage to hear the thoughts and perspectives of students, possibly even learning from them, instead of being authoritative figures who impart unquestionable learning and information.
Meanwhile, there is a strong focus on demonstrating early signs of excellence in many industries and fields. This is particularly true for sports and the arts. And when we have examples like Yo Yo Ma, who demonstrated a gift for music and the cello at an extremely early age, performing for presidents and other famous people by the time he was seven. Of course virtuosos like Ma and others are impossible to replicate no matter how much pressure is applied to a child at any age. And forcing a toddler or young child to try and do so is destined to create disappointment, frustration and possibly even worse feelings like self doubt, insecurity and the like in the child. Is there any light at the end of this complicated and challenging tunnel?
So, how do parents these days navigate through the extremes of childhood experience opportunities and educational needs? Of course we all want to provide our children with the best options possible and ensure that they receive the top quality education, or at least the best we’re able to afford and they’re able to get into. But at what point should a child’s educational options be dependent on their own merit? Early achievements are having a stronger impact on college acceptance potential, and the competition for admissions seems to be beginning at younger ages. Blending this with the tenancy for all children to be treated equally regardless of particular talents and achievements is a tricky balancing act for parents as well as the child. One thing remains the same, parents can and should take an active involvement in their child’s education regardless of age. Playing educational games or finding crossword answers helps to stimulate young minds and instill a sense of wonder and interest in learning. It’s your child and their future, you need to be invested but keep in mind the potential costs if you push your child too far too young.
Article by Scott Tucker, Kansas City, MO