My thirteen-year-old is two grades behind in math and like five grades behind in language arts.
My ten-year-old can do multiplication tables and read. He does neither particularly well.
The reason I don’t care is this strikes me as semantic. For example, my older son is two grades behind in math but he just finished one year of math in three months.
And my younger reads Diary of a Wimpy Kid and Big Nate and has no interest in reading anything else besides People magazine. But you know what? He taught himself to read. It was incredible to watch. Incredible like when your baby just magically starts learning to talk.
I am starting to trust the research more and more. The research says kids don’t need to be taught math until they are in sixth grade. And now I believe it.
The research says neuro-typical kids don’t need to be taught to read.
I don’t have brilliant kids. I have regular kids who don’t do school curriculum.
I trust my kids that they’ll work hard at whatever they care a lot about. My older son does four hours of studying a day because he wants to be scientist. I didn’t tell him he has to do curricula. I told him he has to be interested in something when he wakes up in the morning. And if it’s science then he better start preparing for AP tests, so he can show colleges he actually learned enough on his own to make it worthwhile for them to teach him more.
My younger son practices music three hours a day. He skips sports because he plays cello on Saturdays. He skips sleepovers because he can’t practice if he gets no sleep.
For the record: I am the mother who told him he had to wait a year to start cello lessons because I thought I’d die if I had to practice violin with his brother and cello with him. “One is enough,” I said. But he pushed.
And that’s what the research says: That we don’t need to push kids because they push themselves when they are interested in something. There are no lazy people, only people pressured to do someone else’s idea of a good life.
So, my kids are behind in school, but I don’t think it matters. There’s plenty of time to catch up. If they want to. And their peers are behind in knowing how to structure their own days and stimulate their own drive.
Be careful when you talk about who is behind and who is ahead. Ask yourself who is establishing the goal, and what their agenda is. It takes guts to fall behind when everyone else is falling in step.