DD is turning 3 and I am worried I missed many learning windows - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 17 Old 01-23-2012, 05:11 PM - Thread Starter
 
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DD is turning 3 in March and I have been obsessing that I have not given her all that I could have, haven't taught her enough etc. People always say that kids learn the most until 3. Montessori talks about sensitive periods for that time period. It has beed hard to sit down with her and do things. She is active ( but she wants to for a short time), I am tired. I feel like I am always struggling. I have a hard time getting us fed and keeping the place livable. I often just give her art supplies and leave her alone. Or I let her play on her own (which she really only started to do recently) We do a lot of things out and about-we go to beach, play in yard, read, go to Zoo etc. We try to expose her to things, try to be active, try to teach her to be loving and gentle, talk to her so she can understand etc. I do feel like I have done a good job in someways but I REALLY have been worrying about not having helped developed some aspects of what she needs(needed?) or should have developed etc.

 

I have this terrible sense of a door, looming, ready to slam shut.

 

any thoughts?

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#2 of 17 Old 01-23-2012, 06:32 PM
 
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#3 of 17 Old 01-23-2012, 06:51 PM
 
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Many kids learn what they need to know from school when they enter at kindergarten, some learn later in Waldorf schools, and some learn earlier in settings that push academics only like Montessori and some private academic based preschools.  No matter when kids start you can't really tell how a person was educated by the time they get out of high school. 

 

Even if you are going to put your dd into a Montessori school when she is older she will most likely still do fine.  My friend's son entered Montessori school after being in a play based preschool and did just fine.  She was telling me the other day that they don't start to worry about letting kids in until about third grade because after that it is too hard for most students to adjust.  You have a long ways to go before you even get to kindergarten age so I suggest relaxing and making learning fun. 

 

Here is a developmental checklist from the Mayo clinic that may help you feel better:

http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/child-development/MY00136

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#4 of 17 Old 01-23-2012, 06:58 PM
 
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Get yourself a copy of "Einstein Never Used Flashcards"!

 

Unless you're raising your daughter in a sterile cage, it's unlikely she's missed the golden opportunity for learning anything. In fact, I can't think of a single thing that needs to be learned before age 3. Suzuki violin won't even take them until they're 3. Children with language delays who don't learn to speak until they're 3 do OK. Humans are not zebra finches that have a firm critical period for acquiring things. One of the beautiful things about being human is that we are always learning. Evolutionarily speaking we had to keep learning.

 

Kids learn best by doing and playing. It sounds like your daughter has a variety of experiences with you. You talk to her. You let her play independently. These are all good things. That's what 2 year olds and 3 year olds are supposed to do.

 

Beware the marketing that says you have to teach your child XYZ before a certain age. Most of it's a ploy to get you to buy things or to sign your child up for expensive lessons. Beware the tiger moms who push their children too hard and too fast. Their kids are more prone to anxiety and depression.

 

Why do you think you're so worried? If this is your only fear that's out of proportion, you might shrug it off and remind yourself your daughter is fine. If there's more, you might want to investigate that some more.

 

 


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#5 of 17 Old 01-23-2012, 07:36 PM
 
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Your dd's life sounds exactly picture-perfectly what a little 2yo girl's life should be.  She lives in a family where she gets love and attention.  She lives in a family where everyone's needs are balanced.  She is free to explore the world around her, guided by loving adults.  She is learning the skill of independence.  This is wonderful.

 

I don't think for a minute you need to worry.  It sounds like you are doing a fantastic job.  It is ok (in fact it is good... great...) for you to give her the art supplies and let her have at it.  Not every moment in her life has to be a teaching moment.  Or rather, those moments are teaching moments too, but in a different way.  She is learning (in baby steps) self-reliance, patience.... that other people have needs too - that are just as important as her's. 

 

Every minute of every day of her life is learning.  The real learning doesn't happen sitting still filling out worksheets. I assure you that just by playing and interacting with the world she's learning about colours, numbers, letters and all that... but way more importantly she is learning about human relationships, love... she's being filled with the magic and mystery of life. 

 

Go easy on yourself mama.  There is such a push on parents, such a push in society, such a push on children, to learn better, faster, younger.  I think we need to step back, take a breath.  Reject all that, and truly look at our kids.  Look past our parenting fears and guilt, and see the amazing people that they are.  There is something about this age that is so incredible and natural.  Trust in that.  Trust that your dd has an innate ability to get what she needs out of the life you have together.  I promise you have not missed a window. 


Kate, mom to 7 year old Djuna and 4 yr old Alden. Missing our good friend Hal the cat who died June 2, 2010

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#6 of 17 Old 01-24-2012, 07:09 AM
 
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It sounds like she has been getting lots of opportunities to develop and grow, all of them the kinds of things a young child needs. The Montessori sensitive periods for that age include things like sensitivity for language, movement and sensorial experiences. You have been talking, singing and reading to her (language). She has been playing in different environments like the yard and the beach (movement). She has art supplies and no doubt toys (sensorial experiences). It doesn't sound like she is missing anything in terms of experiences and opportunities. It sounds like you are doing a very good job with providing her those experiences. 

 

You mention that it is hard to sit down and do things with her. Don't worry about teaching or instructing her. Just watch her, follow her lead, answer her questions or respond to her comments. 

 

I detect an underlying tone of exhaustion and anxiety in your OP. Perhaps I am reading too much into your post, but if you need some support, I hope there is someone who can provide it (doctor, family and friends, parenting groups, community resources etc.)

 

 

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#7 of 17 Old 01-24-2012, 07:30 AM
 
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Originally Posted by One_Girl View Post

Many kids learn what they need to know from school when they enter at kindergarten, some learn later in Waldorf schools, and some learn earlier in settings that push academics only like Montessori and some private academic based preschools.  


I agree with this post that different children learn at different paces and it's fine to relax now. However, the statement I bolded above jumped out at me because I think it doesn't provide a full picture of a Montessori children's house program. Montessori does not push "academics only". Montessori allows a child to explore academic areas in language and mathematics, but equally important are the cultural, sensorial and practical life areas. You will find Montessori students with blocks, shapes, materials for exploring colour and sound, and enjoying art activities. They will be involved in food preparation, care of themselves (washing, dressing etc.) and care of their environment (wiping tables, sweeping etc.). 

 

Possibly it was an attempt to be concise about the different types of schooling, but the statement was a little too concise. 

 

I am not entirely certain that the OP is concerned only with academic development, in any case. 

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#8 of 17 Old 01-24-2012, 07:50 AM
 
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I think you're following her lead and doing everything exactly right.

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#9 of 17 Old 01-24-2012, 11:45 AM
 
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Originally Posted by ollyoxenfree View Post


I agree with this post that different children learn at different paces and it's fine to relax now. However, the statement I bolded above jumped out at me because I think it doesn't provide a full picture of a Montessori children's house program. Montessori does not push "academics only". Montessori allows a child to explore academic areas in language and mathematics, but equally important are the cultural, sensorial and practical life areas. You will find Montessori students with blocks, shapes, materials for exploring colour and sound, and enjoying art activities. They will be involved in food preparation, care of themselves (washing, dressing etc.) and care of their environment (wiping tables, sweeping etc.). 

 

Possibly it was an attempt to be concise about the different types of schooling, but the statement was a little too concise. 

 

I am not entirely certain that the OP is concerned only with academic development, in any case. 


I am sorry you find the post too concise but in the area I live in the reason most people choose Montessori and talk highly about Montessori is the academic push.  I am sure Montessori students learn their colors, letter sounds, and do some art activities but those are things every school does and they don't factor into the decision to go with Montessori or not.  Montessori schools in our area do a lot of hands on academic activities from an early age, they explore learning but they aren't playing or exploring in the traditional way preschoolers play and explore in a traditional preschool.  Your post makes it sound like Montessori students will be doing the same thing kids in a play based preschool would do and that just isn't true.  Parents wouldn't be choosing Montessori if it was the same system their kids could get down the road cheaper.  If the idea of someone stating this concisely disturbs you then you should probably look within yourself and at the education style you have chosen for your child too see if there is a reason it disturbs you. 

 

For the record, I think that there is nothing wrong with an academic push, I don't believe in pushing children into academics early in life but once my dd was school age I definitely looked for the setting that pushed her the farthest she could go.  If Montessori is the way the OP chooses for her dd then that is the right choice for her family, but I don't think she should go into it thinking that it is a setting that is run much like your typical free play preschool following Creative Curricullum or HighScope.  The point of my post was that the OP shouldn't worry so much about pushing her dd to learn on a specific timetable because even with a highly academic system like Montessori a child can still learn quickly even if they "miss" a window of learning before they are school age, it wasn't a judgement on any one style of learning style.

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#10 of 17 Old 01-25-2012, 07:57 AM
 
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I am sorry you find the post too concise but in the area I live in the reason most people choose Montessori and talk highly about Montessori is the academic push.  I am sure Montessori students learn their colors, letter sounds, and do some art activities but those are things every school does and they don't factor into the decision to go with Montessori or not.  Montessori schools in our area do a lot of hands on academic activities from an early age, they explore learning but they aren't playing or exploring in the traditional way preschoolers play and explore in a traditional preschool.  Your post makes it sound like Montessori students will be doing the same thing kids in a play based preschool would do and that just isn't true.  Parents wouldn't be choosing Montessori if it was the same system their kids could get down the road cheaper.  If the idea of someone stating this concisely disturbs you then you should probably look within yourself and at the education style you have chosen for your child too see if there is a reason it disturbs you. 

 

For the record, I think that there is nothing wrong with an academic push, I don't believe in pushing children into academics early in life but once my dd was school age I definitely looked for the setting that pushed her the farthest she could go.  If Montessori is the way the OP chooses for her dd then that is the right choice for her family, but I don't think she should go into it thinking that it is a setting that is run much like your typical free play preschool following Creative Curricullum or HighScope.  The point of my post was that the OP shouldn't worry so much about pushing her dd to learn on a specific timetable because even with a highly academic system like Montessori a child can still learn quickly even if they "miss" a window of learning before they are school age, it wasn't a judgement on any one style of learning style.


Disturbed? That's kind of strong. I wanted to explain that a traditional Montessori program is much more balanced than academics only. In a traditional school, there are 5 major areas of focus and they are equally important. A 3 y.o. in a traditional Montessori program can choose to spend his/her time on Practical Life or Sensorial activities rather than learning their letters and numbers, although they will be exposed to language and math learning opportunities too. Perhaps people in your area are choosing Montessori for an academic push, but that's an unfortunately narrow and restricted view of what a traditional program has to offer. 

 

My children attended Montessori programs in a few schools and different cities and I never found an academics-only push at their schools. The essential philosophy of early Montessori schools is child-led learning, providing a broad range of opportunities in non-academic and academic areas, but following the child's interests. At Montessori, my dc spent many days painting, drawing, colouring, helping to prepare snack, cleaning up the tables and washing up and playing with cylinders and blocks, among other activities. 

 

I thought it was important for the OP, since her post referred specifically to Montessori. If she has the same mistaken impression about Montessori views of early learning, it may help her to understand that Maria Montessori also emphasized exploration of the environment, development of sensory input, and development of independent life skills - all of which it sounds like the OP's daughter is doing. 

 

 

 

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#11 of 17 Old 02-06-2012, 11:29 AM
 
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I personally like the idea of a 3 year old being given art supplies and left alone to create!  So much of what is done in the preschool setting is not art for the kids...it's for the parents.  Free play and exploration with the materials, textures, etc. is the perfect thing to do with a 3 year old!

 

Another good read is called "You are Your Child's First Teacher".  It sounds like it might just serve as some reinforcement that what you are doing is enough.   

 

I might be reading too much into a short post, but It sounds like you could be a bit depressed or dysthymic (very low grade depression), which can cause people to be very hard on themselves (thought distortions).  Hugs.

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#12 of 17 Old 02-06-2012, 12:45 PM
 
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I personally like the idea of a 3 year old being given art supplies and left alone to create!  So much of what is done in the preschool setting is not art for the kids...it's for the parents.  Free play and exploration with the materials, textures, etc. is the perfect thing to do with a 3 year old!

 

Another good read is called "You are Your Child's First Teacher".  It sounds like it might just serve as some reinforcement that what you are doing is enough.   

 

I might be reading too much into a short post, but It sounds like you could be a bit depressed or dysthymic (very low grade depression), which can cause people to be very hard on themselves (thought distortions).  Hugs.


Agree with this wholeheartedly--both that preschool art gets done for parents (those silly coloring book page things or stickers put together to make a monkey according to the guide), and what you are doing is great--exploration is what she needs.

Also agree that you sound like you are going through what I went through at times--low-grade depression that manifested in part in massive anxiety over whether I was doing enough for my son (in my case, fears about bonding etc. as well, more than intellectual development, but same basic sense of inadequacy). Please believe you are doing a good job! You don't need to overstimulate or guide her all the time, or expose her to a whole lot--just the variety you are doing is good.

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#13 of 17 Old 02-06-2012, 05:03 PM - Thread Starter
 
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yes, dot1 and g-mom, you mama's are perceptive. I think I am depressed and that leads to high anxiety (which i actually have posted about elsewhere!)

 

BTW, thanks everyone

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#14 of 17 Old 02-06-2012, 06:41 PM
 
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If a child has learned to keep herself occupied, to create her own activities and direct her day to a large degree, this is a wonderful thing.  I wouldn't change it a bit.  

 

If you think she might want more interaction with you, then I would let her know that "I'm washing the dishes if you want to keep me company and play in the sink."  "I'm making dinner now.  There are some mushrooms to chop if you want to join me."  "I need to go into the garden to weed, do you want some tools to help me?"  That way you know she knows that there is always an invitation to join you in your activities, something kids often really enjoy.  And *you* know that she's been given a choice, and she is choosing her activity if she doesn't join you.

 

Personally, I think that is the perfect thing for kids to learn.  I also think that it is perfectly OK for academic activities to just be reading stories together.

 

I personally don't put a whole lot of stock in "learning windows" per se.  If a child is given plenty of activities to choose from, love and companionship, then that is all and well.  A 3yo really doesn't need anything more.  Don't let it stress you out hearing about that kind of stuff.  

 

 


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#15 of 17 Old 02-07-2012, 01:34 PM
 
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Great idea, SweetSilver--it really builds their confidence when they can be part of household activities and learn to do what you do. I got my son a little chopping board for Christmas and he got really excited to chop the fruit (soft fruits that he could manage with a safe knife) for meals and organize the fruit and vegetable plate. And then that's one less thing to do for you, and an activity you are sharing but one she has autonomy over.

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#16 of 17 Old 04-17-2012, 03:07 PM
 
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Originally Posted by SweetSilver View Post

If a child has learned to keep herself occupied, to create her own activities and direct her day to a large degree, this is a wonderful thing.  I wouldn't change it a bit.  

 

If you think she might want more interaction with you, then I would let her know that "I'm washing the dishes if you want to keep me company and play in the sink."  "I'm making dinner now.  There are some mushrooms to chop if you want to join me."  "I need to go into the garden to weed, do you want some tools to help me?"  That way you know she knows that there is always an invitation to join you in your activities, something kids often really enjoy.  And *you* know that she's been given a choice, and she is choosing her activity if she doesn't join you.

 

Personally, I think that is the perfect thing for kids to learn.  I also think that it is perfectly OK for academic activities to just be reading stories together.

 

I personally don't put a whole lot of stock in "learning windows" per se.  If a child is given plenty of activities to choose from, love and companionship, then that is all and well.  A 3yo really doesn't need anything more.  Don't let it stress you out hearing about that kind of stuff.  

 

 


SweetSilver, thanks for sharing. I find your advice encouraging as I often have to remind myself that I AM actually doing enough; that really, if young children feel loved enough, have companionship and are being given activities to engage in, this CAN be enough for them to thrive--learning oppurtunities will manifest themselves naturally.

 

kfillmore, speaking from my own experience, when I feel an urge or a strong sense that I an not doing enough for my child, or anxious about whether or not she is developing as she "should" be, it's often a indicator for me that I need to question where my anxieties are really stemming from. I have to ask myself is it truly something that's coming from me? Or could it be someone elses worry that i'm projecting onto myself and onto my child? Sorry if i'm not making sense... Maybe I can explain it better this way: I grew up in an enviroment where academics ruled above all else. When I start to feel this sense that my daughter "should" be doing more, learning more, or developing at a certain pace, it's often really the voice of my mother and father who always pushed me to my limits (and often to my breaking points). From what you have described in your OP, I also don't think you should be worried that your daughter is missing out on anything... or that any "doors" for learning have been closed or are getting ready to close. If you are still worried and find comfort in reading (like I do), some book titles that have helped me with this topic are The Whole Brain Child, Mindsight, 10 Mindful Minutes and Emotional Intelligence.  The authors (particularly Dan Siegal, author of Mindsight & the Whole Brain Child), reassure in detail, and with plenty of current research in neuroscience, that the human mind is incredibly "plastic."  The term coined by this study is "neuroplasticity."  In essence, the saying "you can't teach an old dog new tricks" is really a fallacy; that our brains have the capacity, throughout our entire lives, to learn new things and develop in astounding ways by making new neural connections; that learning happens all the time, any time, and is not limited by "windows."

 

kfillmore, hope you feel better! My daughter is 3 as well... Reminding myself that we are both doing fine is something that I need to affirm on a daily basis. I too feel as though I'm working through some kind of low grade depression. Sending you some virtual hugs & support!

 

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#17 of 17 Old 04-18-2012, 07:53 AM
 
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My daughter's days, till she started kindergarten, were very much the same.  We didn't do flashcards or "teach" anything. She had art supplies and building toys and a big back yard.  We went to the zoo, listened to music, and helped her investigate whatever her ever-changing passions.  We read a lot of books.  Sometimes she did want to write letters and ask about letter sounds.  Sometimes she wanted to play in the sand box all day.  I worried I was missing "windows" because my aunt, who is a Montessori teacher, kept harping about textures and pouring and stacking and "her work" and I just wanted to let her enjoy being three and squishing around in paint.

 

She is now in regular public kindergarten and doing FANTASTIC.  She never went to day care or preschool (although I think she would have enjoyed preschool) and she's doing just fine.  She loves it and academically she's thriving.  She really just loves school.

 

The only thing I will add is that she is a bit awkward socially.  We lived in a small town where all social life centered around (very very conservative) church.  All the kids were in day care and a million sports from very early on - she has a movement disorder and couldn't do things like tee ball and gymnastics.  She's sweet, she loves other kids, but she just doesn't seem to really know how to make friends and blend in with a group of kids.  It's painful to watch.  She's not the super confident little three year old I remember, she's an awkward and insecure six.  Maybe they're all a little like that, I don't know - she's my only - but I wish we had been able to find friends for her when she was younger.  It wasn't that we didn't try but none of our friends had children, or they all had much older children in sports that took up all their time.  We were utterly left out of a lot of things and I think she missed some social development.
 

 

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