Saturday, November 3, 2012

Your Stroll is my Race

Have you ever witnessed somebody breeze through something in a few moments that you struggle for hours to get right?  It's daunting and frustrating.  Have you ever experienced (you or a child) racing through a subject at school with ease and/or not grasping something until months (sometimes years) later than the norm?

We all have a habit of assuming that most people don't struggle with those kind of inequalities.  We assume that it's just us or our kids, not most families.  As a piano teacher, I'm blessed with the opportunity in some cases to teach siblings.  In case you're not accustomed to the differences in family members, they are consistently inconsistent! What's easy as breathing for one, is a foreign language for another.

I'm the mother of an almost 2 year old who has lots of cousins and friends near his age.  Comparing skills is second nature, sometimes out of fun, sometimes out of fear that our child is behind.  But there is a very clear point that we are not getting as a society and often not practicing as parents and teachers.  Everyone - EVERYONE - has their own pace when it comes to learning and developing.  When we treat (panic, rush, demean) each other (especially kids) as though they've missed the boat on something, we miss the point of learning.

My son is not interested in colors and says everything is green (which is a mighty fine color).  In some circles that might be cause for heavy concern.  But I know that my son is developing weekly - more words, more signs (ASL), and more complex concepts.  And he's got a great arm! I trust that he'll get there eventually, so what's the emergency?  It's so easy to get hung up on milestones and skill levels and ignore the full picture of someone's development.

Everyone is going to have weaknesses and strengths.  If you give a child the message that their weakness makes them abnormal or wrong, then that could affect their approach to learning.  We all have to work harder at some things.  Sometimes your stroll (through algebra or public speaking) is my race.  The sooner we accept those realities, the sooner we can focus on how we are developing as a person, not just at a skill level.

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