Emotional risk is simply running the risk of feeling bad. It may not seem like much of a risk, but often it’s the one that scares us most. We react by shielding our children from bad feelings. When we protect them from emotional risk—the possibility of feeling sad, scared, embarrassed, angry, or any other negative emotion—then we deprive them of the chance to practice dealing with these difficult emotions and recover from them
Researchers from Duke University performed a comprehensive review of multiple research studies done on kindergarten. Their findings? Starting academics early didn’t help children academically or behaviorally in the long haul.
Just because a child can cope doesn’t mean his needs are being met. Five-year-olds can learn to deal with unrealistic expectations in kindergarten, but it doesn’t mean they should. A fifteen-year-old can get pregnant, but that doesn’t mean it’s a good idea.
Research is showing that the more time kids spend with screens, the more they will watch as they grow older and the harder it will be for them to turn them off. Screen watching is habit forming, and adults tend to repeat the actions of their childhood.
Kids have a need to explore independently, even if it’s just around the block on their bike or in a hidden corner of the backyard. This gives them creative freedom and confidence. Most important, it gives them a chance to rely on themselves. Children can’t build these skills if they are always being watched.
Recess is a break from being told what to do. It’s a break from structure, from adult control and dictated choices. Recess is a psychological, emotional, cognitive, social, and physical break that often involves vigorous movement.
As a society, we ought to be worried about many unsafe trends affecting our children. These include depression and anxiety, which lead to a host of social ills, including suicide. The American Academy of Pediatrics reminds us that loss of free-play time causes depression and anxiety in children (as do loss of recess and too much homework.
T here’s no one right way to raise a child. There’s no one right way to educate a child. There are many right ways.
Kindergarten can be a healthy place and a fantastic part of a child’s life. It can be a gateway to twelve more happy years of school learning. However, it’s getting harder to find a program that matches five-year-olds’ developmental needs. Individual teachers may make the difference in some schools. However, even seasoned kindergarten teachers who understand child development have a hard time keeping kindergarten age-appropriate. They have to follow new state curriculum requirements that expect kindergarten children to be reading, ready or not.
Children have the right to interact and move through the real world for the majority of their day. It’s how they learn the complex task of being human. As Nicholas Carr, author of The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains , says, Internet use reinforces distractedness. Being distracted, Carr says, means we’re more likely to follow the crowd, skip original thought, and have a harder time feeling empathy and compassion.
As sociologist Frank Furedi says, children are socialized through interacting in their community, and denying them exposure to their neighborhood hurts this vital social learning. Kids need experience learning how to meet a variety of people and gauging whether to trust them, whether it’s a new sitter, the dentist, or a store clerk. Taking small social risks and assessing trustworthiness is necessary work for our kids. Talking to strangers is part of that.
When we holler to a child, “Stop running! You’ll break your neck!” we’re removing the chance for her to assess her own risk. Kids need the opportunity to try and judge their own risks without adults leaping to the conclusion that it’s “too dangerous.” As kids get more practice balancing on wobbly boards or stepping along slick logs, they become better judges about just what their bodies