When I picked Vivi up from her last day of camp on Friday, the teacher said to me, "She did great all week. You would never know that she's never been to school." I am sure the teacher meant it in a complimentary way but the comment bothered me. I felt like there was some judgement that Vivi, being three years and four months old, should have had some type of formal education before now or that it was odd to find a child who is bright and socialized even without school.
Since Vivi was 13 months old, I have been home with her full-time. My husband and I always knew that when she was pre-school age, we would send her to an official nursery school. This idea, however, that children need to be in some sort of formal learning environment before they are even done toddling seems a tad ridiculous. I have even heard parents of babies refer to their child's daycare as "school." Are you kidding me? Can't a baby just be a baby?
We live in a society where getting ahead means everything: more money, more recognition, and supposedly more happiness. Pregnant women are bombarded with messages that if they listen to Mozart, their progeny will be smarter. If we plop our babies in front of Baby Einstein videos, they will talk sooner. If we enroll our toddlers in Arabic classes and figure drawing, they'll be more appealing to college admission officers. It's all about "learning." It doesn't matter if the child is ready or not.
And yet it is hard for me NOT to sign my child up for lots of enrichment activities. We live in a community that is home to one of the finest universities in the country. We are surrounded by overachievers and academics. I want Vivi and her sisters to be successful too and I'm not necessarily anti-class. (We have done some things. Vivi and I took a mom and toddler yoga class while I was pregnant and Vivi is now learning how to swim at the Y.) What I have found, however, is that Vivi, like most children, learns when she is developmentally ready-- not when she is force fed information in the name of school.
As a result, I am holding tight to my Mama Mama Quite Contrary identity. I am opting out of the rat race because I am raising little girls, not rats. My children can have their adulthood to be overscheduled and stressed out. For now, you will find us at the playground making mud pies and picking our noses.
Want to join us?