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How productive is a toddler

It is amusing and interesting to note how much of analysis or rather over-analysis goes behind parenting a child, especially when it comes to education. While, my own mind goes into a tizzy by unnecessary running over of certain things that concern R, I'm surprisingly a little laid-back about his education. It is probably because I am myself an underdog, so I know that the brightness quotient is quite over-rated, especially when the child is as young as R or also, because I feel that kids these days are quite smart in many ways, and will be able to somehow survive the tide and do eventually well in life.

Whatever the case, I am not so paranoid as some other parents seem to be. At least for now. Hence, I was amused to hear the observations and views of a fellow parent of a kid that is younger to R by 6 months and goes to the same Montessori. Now, we had an observation day for R at his school. It is a day where the parents are invited to observe their child working in his/her environment, to let the parents get a feel of what a Montessori environment entails, what and how the child performs each activity on a given day. So, this particular parent was very eager and keen to know all about this day (as she was not privy to be a part of the event since her child had only recently graduated to M1 level, hence not yet attained the level needed for such an activity). 

Well, it's one thing to be curious and another thing to be anxious. This parent seemed to be anxious in knowing what the children do at school. She went on to say that she did not find the year productive for her child! I was at a loss for words. Here, I was, least bothered by such a day such as this. I have no big expectations of R achieving a specific learning level at the end of his Kindergarten. I am happy if he is happy going to school and at the same time not really having any major lags in his milestone development. Least of all is my worry of if he is learning his letters or numbers at school. And, here was a parent who was assessing the school and her child's growth within a year's time in terms of productivity. What productivity was she talking about, I was afraid to ask.

Assessing the productivity for a toddler can be quite a challenging and IMO, a needless activity. Kids at this age learn a lot even by simple observation, so it's futile to assume that they learn only by doing (meaningful) activities. Actually, the definition of meaningful is quite limited in the adult understanding since we have very defined and limited way of looking at things. But a child's mind is a clean slate that is imbibing such a humungous amount of knowledge each day that nothing seems unnecessary for that child.

To be fair to the parent, I also believe that Montessori methods can be complex and difficult for many parents to understand since they do not involve books and the results are almost never immediate. They target the child at the root level, gradually, and groom them in finer nuances, so tangible results may take much longer to be visible. Also, since they go as per the child's interest and capability, the results cannot be compared too. 

While, I am also new to these methods, I am trying to gain my foot hold on their methods. My insights were also proved to some extent at the observation day where I noticed many finer details to how a child behaves and learns in the classroom- something that can only be experienced and cannot be produced as a tangible result. 

Comments

  1. Oh Uma! I hope this parent doesn't grow up to be one of those "How come you got 99/100? where is that one mark???" kind! seems like it.

    I believe that kids at no age should be hammered for excellent performance. Just let them be themselves and they learn. By nature they are curious cats, they will explore what they find intriguing. Having said that, there is no harm in giving a child a little push from time to time to boost his potential or to show him that he is capable of much more. If that push is whtat causes the strain on kids, I think the parents should back off and take another route.

    It is a competitive world out there. and I have decided that if my child doesn't want to be in a race, she'll not be forced to. I strongly think all this starts right at the beginning of schooling!

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    1. well, I can only feel sorry for the kid if she turns out to be one.
      Oh, the competition starts even before schooling at times..starting with the comparison of milestones!

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  2. Oh such parents annoy me a great deal. All a child needs at this stage is a loving home and parents who spend enough time with him, reading playing and just talking. WE don't need "activities". In fact, I've been getting bugged with Y's school becos I feel they do too much writing at this stage (nursery) and she says she doesn't like to go to school. How much of that is her own personality and how much due to the school, I don't know.

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    1. I know, Aparna..I've heard of schools and playschools giving sheets of writing work as home assignments. The other reason I was so adamant on finding a Montessori for R was the fact that they have multiple steps and series of fun activities as a prelude to writing with a pencil. They do not have a fixed pattern of beginning writing work at a specified stage (nursery). R is only now beginning to hold the pencil correctly, still away from wanting to write and all, though.
      Hopefully Y overcomes her dislike for writing. Anyway, the year is about to end and she'd be in a new environment next year. By then she'd be a little older too.

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  3. Totally agree with you Uma, Kids learn a lot faster than we do and we might not be knowing how much they are taking in. As you said, adults have restrictions and defined lines in their mind while the kids have none. And when there is no restriction, the learning quotient increases on its own. Parents must realize that they are just enablers. Letting the child be and enabling wherever needed is the role of a parent. Most people don't get this.It's the parents' who need some perspective here and not the kids.


    Keirthana

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    1. Seriously! I am seeing parents planning their children's education for the next 5-10 years from now, deciding the course of action (even if it is just a plan) without placing any importance to how the child might feel about it :-(

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  4. You are so right about the learning capacity and rate for kids Uma .. They are always learning a lot more than our mind can even gauge .. So when we try to judge a kid's 'productivity', we are actually embarking upon an activity that we are not at all qualified for :)

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    1. yep, we are not qualified to judge them..they are definitely at a more advanced level and it is up to us to give them the right kind of space and stimulation.

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  5. I guess kids are being forced to grow up and compete so early just to get ahead in life... I wish kids get to be kids and enjoy life.

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    1. Yes, I hope too that they get to be kids.

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  6. I so agree with what you said Uma..but unfortunately we live in a world that parents think their success is based on how well their children do :(

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  7. Uma, I've not been good with comments, but I read your blog regularly and love your style of writing. Very warm, very down-to-earth, no frills writing. To show you my appreciation, Iam giving you the 'Liebster' award. Check out the details at http://meeraah.blogspot.in/2013/02/liebster-award-delight.html

    Keep writing.
    Cheers
    Meera

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    1. ooh..thanks a lot for the nice words, Meera! And, of course the award too :-)

      Delete
  8. Oh yes.. few days back, a parent whose child is just 2 was telling me about some examinations going for 4 year olds and she was so elated. I was totally tight lipped because for me they have their whole life for exams.... Unfortunately these kinds of parents are abundant and we are few.

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    1. yes, sadly there are many parents who feel more exams mean more knowledge! :-(

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  9. When my little one was in the Montessori we had parents like that as well - "Can we have a daily progress report", Can you give me a monthly assessment of the progress my child has made", "Can we see your syllabus and portions"... These questions honestly made me scared for the children... what kind of lives are they doomed to... can't they just be kids??

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    1. Hi, welcome here, firstly! :-)
      Well, yes, without a charter of some kind, the parents seem like having lost control and that makes them go tizzy..I can understand if it is for the older kids but its sad that this is so even for such young children..
      you've an interesting blog there about the ICSE board..will be coming there often :-)

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  10. I think it is unfair to pressurise young children. In my own case, my 2 daughters have such different learning graphs Big G could write her abc at 3.5 and lil G can just about identify a few alphabets if she is bothered to do that:) Here even abc is not taught to children less than 6 years old, but they do learn other things at school. I think we ought to let children be and not push them into learning or coming top of class. I am all for skill-based learning and education, a concept which I don't see very much prevalent in our Indian education system.

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    1. I know, Vibha. Children grow at different levels and in different ways, so unless there is a marked lag in their understanding, etc, it is futile to compare and coerce, esp. at such a young age.

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  11. well said Uma... these days parents want to track their kids progress the same way there manager tracks them in office... why in India we have this micro managed system... both learning and unlearning are required....

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    1. Exactly, unlearning is as important as learning. Unfortunately, we cram so much into our heads that at any point later when it is required of us to unlearn, we tend to clam up and resist it.

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  12. Nicely put Uma. I also try not to use my erstwhile leadership skills to use in Parenting. But I do catch myself doing it sometimes, I admit. I am correcting it as I go. :P
    I havent even put the toddler in Montessori for the same reason. I need something tangible to keep my ancient-mindset happy. So I went the middle way.So I chose a school which is somewhere between a montessori and the usual Indian. They teach only one day for the whole week. Rest of the week the chilren are left to their own devices. This helps me a lot.

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    1. hmm..ya, many parents are uncomfortable with the pure Montessori methods, since the results are very subtle and may not be visible immediately..
      it's nice that you found a mid-method! :-)

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  13. I worry for the children of such parents...I have been a Special Ed Teacher and a Counsellor at schools and sometimes it annoys me that parents complain about teachers not giving their child enough homework!! They evaluate a school as being good only if their child is super-busy even after returning home...I find it hard to deal with such parents....There is too much pressure on the kids these days right from pre-school and it isn't a good thing at all!

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    1. ah..don't even get me started on the homework part! I shudder to think of how I'm going to tackle it when the time comes for it.
      Poor kids, I agree!

      Delete

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