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How to avoid competitiveness re. "academic achievement" in 2-3 year olds?

(26 Posts)
PollyParanoia Thu 22-Feb-07 15:33:24

I have found myself sucked into a loose collective of mothers of children of around three (my son is a few months shy of his third birthday). Everyone but me drives a gas guzzler SUV and sends their kid to a posh pre-prep type school, while mine goes to a playgroupy thing. I'm the only one planning on going to local state primary.
Anyway, part of me thinks that we should all be Swedish don't teach them to read until they're seven types and is relaxed about formal learning.
The other part of me is furiously competitive and completely freaked out by the fact that they say their children recognise all the letters of the alphabet, can hold a pencil properly and are going to serious interviews at posh schools.
I don't want to let ds down by not encouraging him and giving him a good start in life, but neither do I want to be pushy.
What is normal at this age? Is there any correlation between precociousness and intelligence (I didn't speak until I was three)? Please reassure me that the only important thing to teach your child at this age is to respect the feelings of others (I would boast, were I going to get into a boast-fest with them, that ds is very empathetic and has never shown any violence to another human).

bundle Thu 22-Feb-07 15:36:02

can't you find some other friends?

franca70 Thu 22-Feb-07 15:44:21

Yes, I think you are teaching him the right things.

bossykate Thu 22-Feb-07 15:48:17

do you live in clapham or wandsworth by any chance

seriously, i would try and gently drop these people - it will only get worse.

i recommend reading may contain nuts by john o'farrell - a hilarious take on exactly this sort of thing.

bossykate Thu 22-Feb-07 15:48:46

sorry, yes you are doing absolutely the right thing.

KathyMCMLXXII Thu 22-Feb-07 15:49:05

Gosh. I'd rather have a ds like yours than one that can hold a pencil.
You're not holding him back. It's complete rubbish to think you can make children more intelligent by forcing them to do stuff early.

MrsBadger Thu 22-Feb-07 15:50:26

So long as he's getting opportunities to play with paper and crayons/pencils, you're reading to him etc it sounds like you and ds are doing just fine.
I'd ease yourself out of the pre-prep circle and hang out with the playgroup mums more. You may find the former drop you like a stone when ds goes to state school .

frances5 Thu 22-Feb-07 15:51:48

"has never shown any violence to another human"

lol! I not sure I can say the same about my son. However he is is quite a bit older and its rare for him to get into fights.

It sounds like you are doing an excellent job as a Mum.

Being sucessful in life is often down to good social skills rather than academic results. Anything that can help with development of language and manners like a PROPER playgroup will be good. A good playgroup/ pre school/ nursery will develop fine, gross motor skills, language and even mathematical development through play.

As another poster has said, Maybe you need to find a different group of friends.

foxinsocks Thu 22-Feb-07 15:53:57

you know, unless they are very good friends, they probably will drop you.

A few people we knew through baby group did this to us - they didn't want to mix with the oiks (that's the impression I got).

Like others have said, unless you are very close to them, I'd start forging new friendships with your playgroup mates.

IntergalacticDave Thu 22-Feb-07 15:54:52

I have some loose aquaintances like this (serves me right for lioving in Bath)

DS1 is a pickle. He can do a bit of counting and say a few words, which is great, but these ladies are contsntly turning everything into learning opportunities I hate all thet "Oh lokk, X, It's a baby duckling. It's yellow isn't it? Can you say Yellow, X?" B;ah blah blah

In those situtaions, DS1 couldn't give a toss about baby ducklings and would rather spend his time trying to jump in the pond.

He's a kid, ffs, and that's how I like it!

MrsGoranVisnjic Thu 22-Feb-07 15:56:06

doesn't matter when a child starts to read .. it has no bearing on intelligence .. they all equalise around 8 years of age ..

frogs Thu 22-Feb-07 15:56:12

What people say their kids can do and what they can actually do are two different things.

My dsis and cousins have similar-aged kids to mine at posh prep schools (mine are at rough-ish but nice inner-city primary). There is no significant difference between the ages at which they learnt to read/write/tell the time etc. Mine possibly have a slightly more extensive repertoire of rude ditties and can pull off a reasonable impression of gangsta-boy rap-speak when the occasion calls for it, but I think on balance that's preferable to having a default mode of 'please beat me up, I'm little Lord Fauntleroy'.

The main things to aim for at 2-3 are being able to play nicely, concentrate on what they're doing, take turns and not bite/kick/hit other kids when things don't go their way.

Find some new friends and read 'May Contain Nuts'.

Berrie Thu 22-Feb-07 15:56:25

Know just what you're going through as I feel the same about the not pushing things but then worry that he'll be left behind. I tell myself that academic learning will be a bit like potty training, some of the Mums train for months but we waited until he seemed ready and it took 2 weeks. Hope so anyway!

pollyanna Thu 22-Feb-07 15:56:57

like bossykate I was going to ask if you live in London?

It's difficult, I used to be surrounded by mothers like this (when I lived in London) who all had different expectations to me (and more money!). I chose to send my children to a very low-key, non-pushy, playgroup type nursery where there was no learning, but I still found it difficult when they were all telling me what their children were learning. I personally believe that the best start in life is not a school-type environment, (although if the child wants to learn, you can teach them at home at your own pace), and that there is plenty of time for formal learning. My experience of London was that there was alot of competition and comparision which doesn't exist elsewhere.

foxinsocks Thu 22-Feb-07 15:59:50

should also point out (before someone else does ) that we have lots of friends, whose children go to private school, who are perfectly delightful .

You may find once they start at prep school and come back with mountains of homework that you'll breathe a sigh of relief that yours is at state school!

TheDullWitch Thu 22-Feb-07 15:59:59

It is very confidence sapping and anxiety making. You just have to rise above it or you go mad. Really, I d steer clear of these people who compete through their children and see their teeny infant achievements as part of their own status.

Anyway children develop in fits and starts.

pollyanna Thu 22-Feb-07 16:00:07

I agree with mrsgoran - my ds only started to read after he started school, and now (at 8) he is one of the most advanced readers in his class with a huge love of reading (which means more to me than the level he reads at tbh)

IntergalacticDave Thu 22-Feb-07 16:03:20

Tbh, I thini it's far more important that your child grows up with a sense of self worth and also respect for his fellows than being able to explein the theory of relativity before he's even out of nappies.

Just do what you are doing, I personally think tat children get so much more out of just messing around in the park or at home tahn they do out of llaods of planned activities.

Your DS will learn to read/hold a pencil etc in his own good time

MrsPhilipGlenister Thu 22-Feb-07 16:04:21

They sound ghastly. Get some new friends, pdq.

ScottishThistle Thu 22-Feb-07 16:05:33

Children are all different & some Parents lie!...By the time they've gone through reception they're all on a par anyway!

For example: My just turned 3yr Charge can do an age 3-6 jigsaw alone in 5minutes but she doesn't recognise many letters of the alphabet & another child her age is already writing several letters but she couldn't do above jigsaw on her own even if she had an hour to do so!

I'd probably start making some new friendships if I were you to be honest!

bundle Thu 22-Feb-07 16:06:06

ah but pollyanna,they were learning, through play

motherinferior Thu 22-Feb-07 16:09:41

You sound normal.

Admittedly, though, that's by my standards . But my daughters are very nice and DD1 is doing quite splendidly at school.

PollyParanoia Thu 22-Feb-07 16:09:52

Oh you are all stars for telling me exactly what I wanted to hear (I suppose it was a very leading initial message on my part, wasn't it?). I needed that reassurance.
Yes of course I live in London - so obvious isn't it? And I've read and laughed at May Contain Nuts (only this morning I laughed inwardly at a child on a scooter wearing a helmet).
When with the SUV mothers, I am smug about the fact that my children will not be spending their formative years stuck in the back of the car on some godawful school run having to listen to their mother swearing about trying to find a parking space in Hampstead.
thank you all so much

pollyanna Thu 22-Feb-07 16:13:57

pollyp - I lived in Hampstead!!!

(bundle formallearning then )

bundle Thu 22-Feb-07 16:16:22


pollyparanoia, have you read I Don't Know How She Does It, too?

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