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What 4 year olds need to know

Posted by on Sep. 15, 2013 at 10:22 PM
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I copied this from a post on Facebook.

I was on a parenting bulletin board recently and read a post by a mother who was worried that her 4 1/2 year old did not know enough. “What should a 4 year old know?” she asked.
Most of the answers left me not only saddened but pretty soundly annoyed. One mom posted a laundry list of all of the things her son knew. Counting to 100, planets, how to write his first and last name, and on and on. Others chimed in with how much more their children already knew, some who were only three. A few posted URL’s to lists of what each age should know. The fewest yet said that each child develops at his own pace and not to worry.
It bothered me greatly to see these mothers responding to a worried mom by adding to her concern, with lists of all the things their children could do that hers couldn’t. We are such a competitive culture that even our pre-schoolers have become trophies and bragging rights. Childhood shouldn’t be a race.
So here, I offer my list of what a 4 year old should know.
She should know that she is loved wholly and unconditionally, all of the time.
He should know that he is safe and he should know how to keep himself safe in public, with others, and in varied situations. He should know that he can trust his instincts about people and that he never has to do something that doesn’t feel right, no matter who is asking. He should know his personal rights and that his family will back them up.
She should know how to laugh, act silly, be goofy and use her imagination. She should know that it is always okay to paint the sky orange and give cats 6 legs.
He should know his own interests and be encouraged to follow them. If he could care less about learning his numbers, his parents should realize he’ll learn them accidentally soon enough and let him immerse himself instead in rocket ships, drawing, dinosaurs or playing in the mud.
She should know that the world is magical and that so is she. She should know that she’s wonderful, brilliant, creative, compassionate and marvellous. She should know that it’s just as worthy to spend the day outside making daisy chains, mud pies and fairy houses as it is to practice phonics. Scratch that– way more worthy.
But more important, here’s what parents need to know.
That every child learns to walk, talk, read and do algebra at his own pace and that it will have no bearing on how well he walks, talks, reads or does algebra.
That the single biggest predictor of high academic achievement and high ACT scores is reading to children. Not flash cards, not workbooks, not fancy preschools, not blinking toys or computers, but mom or dad taking the time every day or night (or both!) to sit and read them wonderful books.
That being the smartest or most accomplished kid in class has never had any bearing on being the happiest. We are so caught up in trying to give our children “advantages” that we’re giving them lives as multi-tasked and stressful as ours. One of the biggest advantages we can give our children is a simple, carefree childhood.
That our children deserve to be surrounded by books, nature, art supplies and the freedom to explore them. Most of us could get rid of 90% of our children’s toys and they wouldn’t be missed, but some things are important– building toys like lego and blocks, creative toys like all types of art materials (good stuff), musical instruments (real ones and multicultural ones), dress up clothes and books, books, books. (Incidentally, much of this can be picked up quite cheaply at thrift shops.) They need to have the freedom to explore with these things too– to play with scoops of dried beans in the high chair (supervised, of course), to knead bread and make messes, to use paint and play dough and glitter at the kitchen table while we make supper even though it gets everywhere, to have a spot in the yard where it’s absolutely fine to dig up all the grass and make a mud pit.
That our children need more of us. We have become so good at saying that we need to take care of ourselves that some of us have used it as an excuse to have the rest of the world take care of our kids. Yes, we all need undisturbed baths, time with friends, sanity breaks and an occasional life outside of parenthood. But we live in a time when parenting magazines recommend trying to commit to 10 minutes a day with each child and scheduling one Saturday a month as family day. That’s not okay! Our children don’t need Nintendos, computers, after school activities, ballet lessons, play groups and soccer practice nearly as much as they need US. They need fathers who sit and listen to their days, mothers who join in and make crafts with them, parents who take the time to read them stories and act like idiots with them. They need us to take walks with them and not mind the .1 MPH pace of a toddler on a spring night. They deserve to help us make supper even though it takes twice as long and makes it twice as much work. They deserve to know that they’re a priority for us and that we truly love to be with them.

by on Sep. 15, 2013 at 10:22 PM
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Replies (1-4):
jen2150
by Member on Sep. 16, 2013 at 8:07 AM

I saw this too and I totally agree.  I never imagined my  4 year who was not yet talking would  become a chatter box.  

faeriemom1972
by Member on Sep. 16, 2013 at 9:46 AM
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When I hear people say "you need to make sure to schedule time with your children" I just want to barf. Really?! We need to make appointments to what? Be parents? This is what happens when we are over scheduled because we are trying so hard to get the most out of life. You have to schedule time to actually live life! Gah!

You know that book "what your kindergartner needs to know"? Oh, my. I have it and I enjoyed reading through it but all I could think was why does my son need to know any of this? Especially at the age of 5, lol! It's sad and frightening to see what society believes children need to know at certain ages.

LindaClement
by Group Owner on Sep. 16, 2013 at 11:48 AM
2 moms liked this

I agree... 

I think there are deep problems when people can't wrap their head around the idea of having a relationship with another human being when there is more than one other person (who you know --it's fine in busy restaurants for some reason??) present...

I think all those prescriptive books, from What to Expect to What Your Child Needs To Know, are problematic. They create syndromes and pathology where none exist, and help people feel incapable, ineffective and insecure.

Which, obviously, sells more books to them...

Quoting faeriemom1972:

When I hear people say "you need to make sure to schedule time with your children" I just want to barf. Really?! We need to make appointments to what? Be parents? This is what happens when we are over scheduled because we are trying so hard to get the most out of life. You have to schedule time to actually live life! Gah!

You know that book "what your kindergartner needs to know"? Oh, my. I have it and I enjoyed reading through it but all I could think was why does my son need to know any of this? Especially at the age of 5, lol! It's sad and frightening to see what society believes children need to know at certain ages.


mamavalor
by Member on Sep. 20, 2013 at 1:45 PM
1 mom liked this

Amen.

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