When my firstborn got to the age where I started taking her to “events”, it was fun to look up all the wonderful things in my community that we could do together. We could listen to stories read by a children’s librarian, or go see a puppet show. Now, I am feeling this escalating pressure to have my children doing something at all times. WHY?
Now that I am walking down the path of parenting a soon-to-be-kindergartener, I hear things from teachers and other parents about preparation. Kids aren’t necessarily expected to arrive at a school with a particular set of skills, but….even some teachers refer to preschool as the “new kindergarten”. The pressure mounts early for kids to start on an academic trek. There is less time for play in the school yard and for music and art indoors. How do you even know which things your child has an interest and aptitude in unless they have had exposure before schooling or you have them in even multiple programs after school?
An art teacher told me that the role of a parent is to expose your children to as many different subjects as possible over the years. The focus should not placed on mastery, but on the sheer knowledge and experience of climbing trees, bouncing basketballs, and singing songs in another language. Her words resonate with me. Our children can be exposed to a wide diversity of subjects and experiences, but we don’t need to push them beyond the boundaries of their emotional, physical, and intellectual development.
Maybe one day my four-year-old will express to me that she wished she had been in more classes or in preschool, but I have really enjoyed having the time to really learn all about her. I like the challenge of trying to find places and activities that engage her (learning style, personality, and interests.) Art galleries. Community center gyms. Play times. Story times. And home.
And in some essence, it feels like I am called to answer the question What type of adult children do I want to parent? Do I want a self-sufficient child? A successful child? An inquiring child?
I hope that in the process of getting worked up about this and letting it all go that I can come back to the simple truth that when I am present and responsive to my children, they give me the answers and the direction.