D. just got his very first "report card"...! We are alerting the proper agencies now that we have confirmed that D is "proficient" in "stacking objects" and that he is "in the process of mastering" certain "social courtesies." Mensa, you reading?
It was such a funny moment, reading D's report card while holding my middle son and making my littlest one's bottle. Looking at our baby, S., it's almost impossible to imagine that, in three short years, she will have traded in the spitting up and constant napping for the perpetual "why?" verbal dance and something approaching cognitive thought.
Unless of course she is already far smarter than we give her credit for. According to this article which sites a bunch of studies in support: Even young babies have complex thought-processes and are able to explore and understand cause and effect and even probability. The author goes as far as to posture that babies are "sometimes smarter than adults":
Babies are captivated by the most unexpected events. Adults, on the other hand, focus on the outcomes that are the most relevant to their goals. In a well-known experiment, adults saw a video of several people tossing a ball to one another. The experimenter told them to count how many passes particular people made. In the midst of this, a person in a gorilla suit walked slowly through the middle of the video. A surprising number of adults, intent on counting, didn’t even seem to notice the unexpected gorilla...Adults rely more on what they already know. Babies aren’t trying to learn one particular skill or set of facts; instead, they are drawn to anything new, unexpected or informative.
(I can completely imagine myself ignoring the gorilla...I'm such an "adult"...!)
Obviously there is no need to stop the presses in order to declare that we don't give our kids enough credit. Sometimes the sympathy and common sense that my children express and articulate teaches me. And by "sometimes" I mean "often." But there is something about a study like this that does give me pause. Because I DO believe that we over-program our kids these days, and I DO think that summers should be about playing and doing things such as contemplating clouds...but if all those neurons are firing away like mad men (Oh, thank you for being back "Mad Men"!) in my kids' heads, then isn't it a bit negligent of me not to teach them three languages, get out the math flash cards, enroll them in six different sorts of martial arts?
Well, before we all "add to cart" every Baby Einstein offering on Amazon, take heed of the article's take-away message:
Sadly, some parents are likely to take the wrong lessons from these experiments and conclude that they need programs and products that will make their babies even smarter...
But what children observe most closely, explore most obsessively and imagine most vividly are the people around them. There are no perfect toys; there is no magic formula. Parents and other caregivers teach young children by paying attention and interacting with them naturally and, most of all, by just allowing them to play.
Oh well, thank God. Cause I have lots of "slow parenting" (not to mention praciticing certain "social courtesies" with the babies) that I need to attend to...!