A couple of months back I had watched a special on 60 Minutes where Morley Safer reported on the rising trend of “redshirting,” the delaying of kindergarten for children until they reach the age of 6. Popularized by the book Outliers where Malcolm Gladwell examines the keys to success. To make a long story short, many have come to the consensus that having their child enter athletics and/or academics later to compete with younger students is of an advantage for their own child because it will give their child more confidence. Does anyone else see the problem here? I nearly fell off my chair when I heard this – what BOLOGNA! No, it’s not bologna that your child will have an advantage, that’s obvious, but at what cost? If someone with common sense actually pays attention to what Gladwell goes on to say in his book, he has much more to say than just that… perhaps that luck and timing had a lot to do with success but for the protégé’s the true key to success was the amount of hours that they dedicated to their work. What a concept!?! That the more time you spend at something, the better you’ll actually get at it? The difference is that most protégés begin at an earlier age, so holding your child back is just denying your child of so much hidden potential.
We’re a military family and we had the opportunity of living in Korea when my son was 3-4 and my daughter was 1-2 years of age. Out of everything that I enjoyed about Korea, their educational system is by far the most outstanding. Mind you my children were young so they were not going to the public school system, but private. I’ve had some people disagree with me because they say that the public school system isn’t as good, and perhaps that’s true but I can only judge from my experience of early private education. Which brings me to another point – private is better because there’s competition. Not that I can afford it in America! Why did I put my kids in the Korean school system do you ask? Well, it was an experiment at first, to see if they’d like it, make some friends, pick up some words… instead they exceed my expectations. Children are like sponges!
My biggest fear upon returning to the states was, what would I do now? My expectations were a lot higher! Upon returning to the states, I had a rude awakening. Apparently my son, who was now 4, was too young to enter into any public programs in the state of Connecticut and all the private programs would require me to get a full-time job in which would mean my daughter would require daycare or private school for which I would then need to get two full-time jobs. Meanwhile back in Korea we paid less than $400 a month for a shuttle to pick my son up at our front steps from 8am-4pm and drop him off either at piano or taekwondo everyday. The school not only taught him Korean, but they had English class and were beginning Japanese – did I mention this was a regular class for 4 year olds? Ohh and this included school (not pink slime, but organic) lunch, uniform, transportation, and books.
My point here is that by holding our children back, we’re doing exactly that, holding our children back. This is just one of the many reasons why, we, as parents have to be proactive. We need to study our children and see what they are capable of doing, don’t underestimate them… often they will surprise you and with your support and encouragement they can go on and surpass your wildest expectations.