Friday, July 2, 2010

On learning styles and life lessons.

You know, there's a WHOLE lot of talk of "creating a critical thinker" when it comes to nurturing young children.

I'm of two minds on this.  On one hand, I agree that yes, we should encourage our children to think critically, and nurture their analytical skills while they're so open to it and so naturally curious.  On the other hand, though, I don't think that every moment of your child's life should be spent teaching some sort of lesson or thinking skill.

I take great issue with mothers who sneer at me when I respond "she wasn't" to questions like "how high was Kinder Major counting when she was two?"

Kinder Major showed a great right-brain preference from a very early age.  She was drawn very strongly to music and color, and showed a vested interest in coloring and painting by 11 months.  I nurtured that creativity.  Instead of teaching her counting and numbers and her alphabet at such a young age, I taught her color names and allowed her to play in paint and with crayons.  We colored on "her" wall next to my bed at night.  We read books together that were filled with color and texture, we sang and listened to music of all kinds, we danced and played with blocks.  As she continued to develop cognitively, she proved to have a knack for engineering based on aesthetics.  Again, I nurtured that.

A big part of attachment parenting is *knowing* your child and nurturing their innate abilities.  I don't feel that forcing "critical thinking" education on a child that doesn't learn that way is following that facet of APing.  I believe that every child is different, and should be nurtured as such.

Now, please don't interpret that to mean "don't encourage curiosity and awareness" - that's not what I'm saying.  What I AM saying, though, is don't bully your pediatrician into making a referral for speech and occupational therapy for your 18 month old because they haven't learned their entire alphabet yet.  (True example.)  Don't fill your child's day with structured learning, either.  Allow your child to grow at their own pace, and to be a child, especially if they are still on the variable line between late infancy and early toddlerhood.  Hell, even later toddlers.  Allow them to be them, and allow them to grow as they will.  Our children are not meant to be clones, nor are they meant to be programmed to fit our personal agendas on what we feel the perfect child should be.  They are their own person, and should be allowed to grow as such.

That is a life lesson that we all need to learn as we grow with our children.  Likewise, we should apply the same concepts to ourselves, since respectively, most of us are infants in our parenting lives.  We need to remember that we are all different, and allow ourselves to grow as we will, instead of as someone else (or even our pre-child selves) think we should.  We need to have confidence and faith in ourselves that we will thrive, and only with that confidence will our children form their own.



  1. I with you, I was more into doing creative projects with my kids (still am) than teaching them math and spelling. I read with them but have never done flash cards or anything like that. That just feels silly to me. They are both sharp kids though and just pick things up naturally

  2. I totally agree. Even with my 2 kids I worked with them to fit their personalities. My daughter is creative, loves arts and crafts and music. She is a talker. We did a lot of coloring and painting and she told me stories. For every book I'd read, she'd "read" 2 more, making up stories based on the pictures she saw. My son is far more quiet and loathes sitting still. He hates coloring and painting. He preferred I read to him and playing with blocks or in the sandbox.

    As important as it is for kids to learn their alphabet and to count, they will get there in their own time. Fostering their individuality is also important.

  3. 100% in agreement with you! I blogged about this myself a couple of weeks ago. I was inspired by Sir Ken Robinson's TED talk on nuturing creativity. The video is on youtube and I highly recommend you check it out. I think nuturing creativity is the real key to happiness.