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Michelle Zunter

Let’s start this by saying that I totally relate to the need many parents have in wanting their children to be special, unique, talented, and downright amazing. I think my child is all of those things too. Of course I do. I’m even guilty of dreaming that my child will eventually excel in a subject or sport down the line. That’s normal.

But do we really need to be measuring and comparing the academic achievements of kids as young as 3, 4, and 5 years old?

I sincerely wish we wouldn’t.

These days, I often find it difficult to have a casual conversation with other parents of children who are only in preschool without being told about how their kid is phenomenally “advanced” in writing or that they’re already reading at a 2nd-grade level.

I mean, obviously that’s great news if you’ve been led to believe your child is some sort of prodigy because they’re catching on well in preschool. However, I can’t help but notice that the height of parental bragging has reached epic proportions both in real life and on social media.

Can someone tell me how a 6 or 7-year-old is supposed to come down from the high of being told they were extraordinarily “advanced” in kindergarten but now they’re struggling in 1st or 2nd grade, subsequently losing that prestigious title? What a buzzkill.

I understand the concept of being so sharp that you breeze through high school and get into an awesome university. But preschool? Kindergarten? Come on.

I realize I’m probably coming off as bitter or pessimistic but I’m concerned that we’re propping our children up on a ridiculously steep pedestal at too young of an age and that we’re really just giving them a higher place to eventually fall from.

The ever increasing loads of homework being sent home in preschool and kindergarten seems like overkill as well. The most important skills young kids in preschool and kindergarten should be learning are social skills, in my humble opinion.

But try telling this to anyone who has school age children. They will all tell you that in order to survive and keep up in school these days, kids must be writing properly and learning how to read by the age of 5 — at least.

I don’t remember doing any real academic work when I was a child until about 1st grade. Preschool and kindergarten were all about playing dress-up, painting, running around, and making friends.

These days, if your child is successfully reading and writing before kindergarten, they will undoubtedly be labeled as “advanced.” This can be a very exciting term for parents and you’ll undoubtedly hear them telling everyone they know how advanced their kid is compared to others.

But is this something we should all be striving for? And what about all day kindergarten? To me, an 8 hour day for a 5 or 6-year-old is just too much. But for some parents, it’s the key to getting their kids on that advanced train to academic excellence.

Do we really have to start this rat race for success so early? What are we truly getting out of it? Bragging rights? A post on Facebook? What is your child getting out of it?

In the end, every parent will do what they think is best for their child. If I think too much academic pressure at a young age is not healthy for my child, I’m entitled to that opinion. If another parent is primarily focused on academic advancement, then that’s up to them.

I just wish we could give our kids a lighter, softer childhood before we start measuring their worth based on their level of academic “advancement.”

So, while I think it’s great that your child may be very “advanced” for their age, I ultimately hope your child is happy, well-adjusted, surrounded by kind friends, and praised for so much more than how quickly they can read or write.

Visit Michelle at The Pondering Nook for blogs on life, love, marriage, divorce, parenting, step-parenting, body image & more! Also Catch Michelle co-hosting at The Broad’s Way Podcast on similar topics.