Children learn when they’re ready


“Children’s bodies do each have their own clock. Each clock just may not match the expectations of the structures around the children.”

From How reading Anne of Green Gables helped me chill out as a parent

The above quote perfectly summarises something I’ve been thinking about for a while. There have been a few things that we’ve worried the boys weren’t doing – things we felt they should be doing. Swimming. Harry swinging himself on the swings. Other things I can’t think of at the moment…

But then suddenly they just start doing them. And it seems to be as much of a surprise to the boys as it is to us. From Harry one day swinging himself and then jumping off and saying “Hey! I didn’t know I could do that!” from Joe in the pool clinging to me like a monkey one week to paddling his way over to David while water spurts from his mouth the next.

At school, everyone is encouraged to do stuff at the same time. And if they don’t – if a child isn’t ready, they’re either left behind or labelled as having some sort of learning issue. At one of the meetings with the Head of Harry’s old school, she showed me a spreadsheet and said “This is Harry’s reading level and this is the level we’d expect him to be at.” I looked at it. I thought about it. I said, “But why should I care about that?” She said, “Oh you don’t need to care about it, it’s just something we need to know.” And I understand why they do. But I’m really glad we don’t have to worry about it anymore.

My boys will learn when they are ready to learn. That may be faster than some other children. It may be slower than some other children. And that’s ok. They’re not names on a spreadsheet, they’re individuals. And they are learning in an individual way. It seems a bit odd to me that it’s seen as radical.


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