Writing at the intersection of motherhood, feminism and my Latinidad

27 August 2008

What to Buy Wednesday – Books

I know I said I would be positive in this series, so I am going to say that I am POSITIVE that buying your youngling edu-tainment toys will not guarantee them a ticket to Harvard. Instead I urge you to focus on buying your future student books. Plain old books. Buy them a few of your favorites and some new ones for that bookcase you are setting up in the nursery. Start reading now and never stop reading to your kids.

Parenting has a wonderful article on giftedness (h/t Kim) that not just says that gifted kids are rare, but that we can't make them with drills, toys, and extra work:

"Gifted" has become one of the most tossed-about words in the parenting lexicon. Unfortunately -- sorry, but let's get this out of the way right up front -- it's also one of the most misused. The vast majority of children are not gifted. Only 2 to 5 percent of kids fit the bill, by various estimates. Of those, only one in 100 is considered highly gifted. Prodigies (those wunderkinds who read at 2 and go to college at 10) are rarer still -- like one to two in a million. And despite the boom in infant-stimulation techniques, educational DVDs, learning toys, and enrichment classes, those numbers haven't been increasing. You can't build giftedness; it's mostly built in.

My daughter starts kindergarten next week and yes, she's in a gifted program. But we didn't drill her, send her to classes, or pile her with edu-tainment toys. I'm not saying that because I'm proud of it, honestly I'm deathly afraid that my trust in expert advice is actually wrong and all the kids in her class will come reading Shakepeare due to all the things we didn't do. I know they won't be, but that's what the edu-tainment & Co's are working off of...fear.

Instead, I ask you to have faith in your kid and yourself as parents. I know, many of us don't have our parents close by or if we do, they might not understand this new world we are raising our kids in. We all want more for our kids, but sometimes less is more.

Technorati tags: What to Buy Wednesday, motherhood, parenthood, gift

2 comments:

So true. My boys were in Advanced Academics in elementary and then in a 'gifted' program in middle school. What I see happening is that there are so many kids who do not have the proper support, that those who do are set apart.

I have always been conflicted about these programs because it seems to me that if in a gifted program there are additional resources and programs brought in - why not give those as well to the kids who really need it?

Our children are lucky enough to have someone who brings them books, reads to them, talks to them. Most kids just don't.

You are right on the money too when you say reading is the best thing for your children. We used to always read a book every night (I tried recently to do this again, but teens aren't so patient with it). Kids hear the language, the tempo, the unfolding of a plot. That is what creates literacy and advanced vocabularies. The toys and classes do some, but not all.

One last comment, my son has a friend whose parents are obsessed with his progress in school. They held him back a year just so he could be at the top of his class. He takes classes in advanced math, science and music lessons. But when we used the word voluptuous in a conversation he had to stop and ask - What does that mean?

Not to worry -- you can't possibly force or restrain giftedness. It is a genetic heritage, like blue eyes. And the very definition of "gifted" is scoring in the top two percent on a standardized I.Q. test. So, it is impossible for more than two percent of all children to be gifted.

I've never understood a reluctance to shower the gifted with resources -- after all, THEY are our future, our future leaders, doctors, lawmakers, judges, caretakers. Should we not prepare them in the best ways possible?

Georganna @ A Writer's Edge