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Why Can’t We Let Kids Be Kids?

April 11, 2012

So, over the past year, I was on the hunt for a school for my son.  Ideally, a private school that is somewhere along our commute into town every day.  While I admit that I always planned on sending my child to private school, I must also say that as a double income family, public school in our town is impractical.  Neither my husband, nor I, could make the schedules work with our jobs for drop-off and pick-up and I do not want to hire a full-time nanny.  I would rather send him to a private school as I do feel the education will be different and, for my son specifically, better.  The most interesting part of this process was meeting other parents who were looking at schools. Earlier this year, I was meeting with an admissions officer and another set of parents at one of the schools before our tour and was appalled to find out that the other parents has their TWO year old in daily intensive spanish classes.  At two years of age,  REALLY?

I find myself asking, when did children stop being children and AP students at age two? Like most successful urban mom’s, I want my son to be successful and brilliant but, more importantly, I want him to enjoy life. If he does not, he will not only not be successful, he will also not be happy. I argue that in order to be succesful you must be confident and comfortable in your ability to enjoy life, engage in discovery and learn about things that you can feel passionate about, even if it is Thomas the Tank Engine (and really, what could be more important than a “really useful engine?”).  Does this mean that my son will always get to do whatever he wants to?  Absolutely not, those who know me, know that while I can be permissive, I will ride my son to behave properly and, in some instances to do as he is told and be seen and not heard. Just find us at Morton’s over dinner and you will get an earful of how he must behave at fine restaurants. However, while I am not a psychiatrist, I do believe that as a result of my letting him enjoy his life and just play when he wants to he does not act out nearly as much as I see other kids doing.

Fast forward to this past Monday when I signed a commitment letter to send my son to a private school for Pre-K. The cost, about as much as my Freshman year of college at Boston University, including room and board, and I have to send him to school with lunch every day!  So, do I worry about him getting a great education, you bet. However, one of the reasons I am enrolling him in this specific school, is because they believe in letting children be inquisitive and explore. They also  believe that children should truly learn and not rote memorize tied to a desk 7 hours a day 5 days a week and have so much homework they cannot ever go outside.  I went to a school like this and you know what, I seem to have survived and thrived.

All in all, I want my son to be a kid and enjoy every damn minute of it.  Let’s face it, the real world will slip in very quickly and time for play will be harder and harder to come by.  It is time for parents to take some Valium and chill out, particularly those of us who come from NYC.  Let’s stop obsessing on making our kids perfect and let them be. Last time I checked, we all thought they were perfect when they popped out.  Why do we seek to change and mold them so much as they get older?

Comments welcome.


From → Kids

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