Saturday, March 7, 2015


Time is a constant haze which distorts our view of childhood. To a young father walking his crying infant, the night seems endless. At his daughter's college graduation the same father is amazed at how rapidly the years went by.

"Hurry up," insists a mother as her child dawdles getting ready in the morning. "Slow down," admonishes his teacher when the same child turns in a poorly written assignment.

Time places judgements on parents. "Many children make reversals. He's OK, mom. It is too early to put a label on him,"  is heard by the worried mother. 

"Here are the early signs of dyslexia. I wish we had caught it earlier. I can't believe her parents didn't notice!" are the murmurs heard after the diagnosis.

We live in a country in which the delight of the present is pushed aside by the worries for the future. A kindergartner is asked, "What do you want to be when you grow up?" A first grader is warned that she can't act like that in second grade. The third grader is cautioned that all the students know the multiplication facts in fourth grade. The fifth grader's year is permeated by the upcoming expectations of Middle School.

But we know childhood is made of precious time-stopping moments. Moments for delight in new experiences. A child's priceless look of wonder for all those things a teacher has shown her class every year--since caterpillars become chrysalis, and baking soda and vinegar turned into lava flowing out of paper mache volcanoes.

Let's remember to give each child :

Time to Learn. True learning takes time. One exposure to an idea isn't learning. To learn something takes time. For a child with learning differences it may take much more time than expected.

TIme to Understand. Sometimes things need to be explained differently. Sometimes they need to be shown. Sometimes they need to be delayed before true understanding is possible.

Time to Practice. Motor and cognitive skills are honed through practice. A child needs practice to throw a ball or write the letter Q. He also needs practice to write a coherent sentence and master subtraction.

Time to Relax.  A child may have difficulty with the question, "What did you do today?" but she still may feel tired, tense, hungry, or worried after school. A child needs time to get rid of the energy, listen to the quiet, or do whatever works for her to relax. 

Time to Slow Down. A child rushed to a multitude of activities needs time to ponder and experiment. Children truly do need to learn to smell the roses. Down time also helps a child learn self-discipline.

Time to Work. While many children are rushed through a day, too often they are given large breaks of time from academic learning. New skills in reading, writing and math get lost during a lazy summer. A travel journal, a good book, or a budget for the lemonade stand give time to understand, learn, and practice. 

And finally...

A Child Needs Time to be a Child. Children are not miniaturized adults. They do not need to be burdened with adult problems. They aren't here to fulfill our own unrealized dreams. They get hurt by minor slights and don't realize the seriousness of some situations. They act like children. That's okay, for with the passing of time they will become adults.

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