Expectations

I found this New York Times article, Bad Behavior Does Not Doom Pupils, Studies Say, interesting, not so much because of any implications it might have for the Beaner's school career, but because it highlighted something I'd already been thinking about: emotional maturity. The quote that stuck out for me:

“I think these may become landmark findings, forcing us to ask whether these acting-out kinds of problems are secondary to the inappropriate maturity expectations that some educators place on young children as soon as they enter classrooms,” said Sharon Landesman Ramey, director of the Georgetown University Center on Health and Education, who was not connected with either study.

I was saying to my sister yesterday that because the Beaner is rather clever and articulate (not to mention somewhat large for his age—at his 3-year checkup on Friday he measured in the 95th percentile for weight and the 76th percentile for height, and he's been wearing size 4T for the past six months at least), I sometimes forget that he hasn't even turned 3 yet. My expectations for how much he should be able to focus, how responsible he should be, how reasonable he should be might be too high.

He's already risen to several challenges; he goes to the bathroom by himself, turns on lights by himself (with the aid of a stepstool), puts himself to bed now (victory!), and even gets his own breakfast some days. He can help unload the dishwasher, sort the laundry, and put away his toys. He can now sit through—and even asks for—longer stories that he shunned a few months ago, such as Make Way for Ducklings or Paddington Bear at the Circus, or even a chapter or two of an Arthur story or Harry Potter. He climbs the stairs to his classroom all by himself, and he's started to remember what he's done at school and tell us about it.

In short, he's made great strides over the past year and even the past two or three months. We can still keep our expectations high and let him know how we expect him to behave, but we also need to cut him some slack and give him some time. He's got a lot of new information to absorb, and a not-yet-three year-old's attention span.

Posted by Lori in news/media and parenthood at 10:48 AM on November 13, 2007

Comments

By putting himself to bed, do you mean goes to sleep alone, without someone there? #1 can do that, but I must say, I love those quiet waning moments each evening. I don't always get them, what with #2 on the scene. But I love them.

They are still wee little guys, after all.

Posted by: ratphooey [TypeKey Profile Page] at November 13, 2007 2:06 PM

Yep, that's what I mean -- I now read him a couple stories, give him a hug and a kiss, tell him I'll see him in the morning, then turn off the light and leave the room. Sometimes I hear him get up to pee or throw out a tissue, but usually he just goes to sleep. I think we're now going on two weeks with this new routine, and I'm really liking it.

Posted by: Lori [TypeKey Profile Page] at November 13, 2007 10:51 PM

Oh, lucky you, mister goes to bed on his own. My boy didn't manage that until he was SIX. I plan to do different with the little one! My boy was always big for his age too -- same percentile at that age -- and it was unnerving what other people expected of him, let alone what I would. I was just talking to someone yesterday whose daughter goes to a Waldorf school and her teacher wants her to go for testing and special tutoring because she's not reading as well as the other third graders and of course they all have to tow the same line... uh oh, I can feel some No Child Left Behind ranting coming on... I'll leave you with that!

Posted by: Diane at November 14, 2007 8:50 AM

I had the opposite problem with mine - she was so teeny for her age that I would have people be amazed at anything she could do - "Wow, she's walking!" "Yes, and she's only 18 months old."

I never had a huge problem with my expectations being set off-kilter because of her size, because I had no idea what kids of various sizes should be doing. I probably am guilty of the thing you talk about, though, thinking that because she has certain mental capabilities she's a kid, rather than a post-toddler pre-kid.

Posted by: sconstant at November 16, 2007 12:52 PM

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