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You Become What You Practice

A few days back, I wrote rather mournfully about an opportunity that three year-old No. 3 had lost because, well, she’s 3.  It seemed a bummer to me that 3 wasn’t allowed to continue what she’d done so well, (participating in a class involving a museum tour and a related project).

I was thinking about the entire issues as 3 being able to do things that her same-age peers couldn’t.  Mostly I’d been led to this thinking by the museum staff who were concerned that other kids 3’s age couldn’t function in the class.  (Plus it’s kinda fun to think that your kid is stellar.)

Then, it occurred to me.  What if all kids could do this?  What if we just don’t expect it of them as a society, and so, of course, they don’t.  3 was pretty much raised in the museum of which I speak, (and in a whole host of other locations).  She learned how to walk there.  Most Saturdays she could be found—at first in the wrap strapped to me and later on foot—following along with the museum tour and project class before it became age limited.  She got to do this for two blissful years before the rules changed.  Parents, and teachers alike remark on 3 following along with the tour, doing what all the other kids aged six and up do.  But, really, what else would she do?  She’s experienced this class throughout her life.  She knows how it works.  She enjoys it.  What else would she do?

Maybe that’s the key, and maybe that’s what we’re really losing by programs being age limited.  Maybe 3 isn’t particularly gifted, (even though I of course like to think she is), maybe every single kid that went to this class at the same age would have had the same experience.  Isn’t it more rational to make that assumption?

What about kids that just don’t want to be there though?  Won’t they disrupt the class?  There were days 3 didn’t want to be there when she was younger.  We simply left the class early, went downstairs, got a beer (for me) and an apple juice (for her) and had a delightful time.  Before that, there were times she was hungry.  Mom-person and 3 wandered to a quiet corner of the museum with a bench.  These were not insurmountable issues.

What are we losing as a society and as families by not making the assumption that of course our kids can?  I’m going to try to sell 3’s attendance to the museum again, because otherwise, as I mentioned before, I have to find a new opportunity for 3 to partake in.  Why?  Because if you don’t use a skill, you lose it.


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