This morning I watched a mother hold her six-month-old baby. They were watching a screen together and the mother was singing along a counting song. “Twenty-two, twenty-three…”
There was nothing truly wrong with the scene except expectations. The baby was content. She was being cuddled and sung to, so her needs were mostly being met. But already there’s a clash of expectations. What’s valuable to the adult versus what’s valuable to the child. What’s possible and reasonable to expect at a child’s given age versus what’s pushing an adult agenda.
Drilling numbers early doesn’t speed up a child’s natural development. Counting to twenty-two is still years off. First comes the concept of “more” and then “she has more cookies than I do!”
Kids grasp early math concepts through life and play.
The same mismatch of expectations comes with ubiquitous calendars in preschool and kindergarten classrooms. Starting around age three, adults push the idea of Monday and November and 2015, despite the fact that most children’s natural brain development is not ready to grasp these time concepts until closer to age seven.
We waste children’s time when we use their time for “educational material” that ought to wait for later.
I understand the urge. Parents simply want their kids to have the best start possible. They truly dread the idea of falling behind, so they grab onto screen programs billed as educational. It’s hard for adults to realize there are some things you just can’t speed up.
Time is key. But not rushing time. Taking time.
What ways have you seen young kids use math concepts in their play? Are there babies counting to 22 in your town, too?