A reader I recently spoke to had a great comment concerning preparing her toddler (now 2) for preschool and school, and a secret fear she was harboring.
“I want to prepare my son for preschool and school and teach him a lot of things, but
I am worried that if I do that he’ll go and be bored and naughty. My mom always
said the naughtiest kids were the ones who were very smart and bored at school.”
Ahhh… I think her mother is often right. The naughiest kids may well be some of the smartest and the most bored. But does that mean your smart child will necessarily be naughty or that preparing them in advance will just set them up to have behavior issues at school? Let’s think on this.
1. Teaching your toddler focusing and attention skills will pay greater dividends than teaching them how to read early.
Far more important than learning the multiplication table and Mandarin at age 4 is learning the ability to sit still and pay attention. Children are all able to learn and are like sponges. However, the amount they are able to absorb will greatly depend on how well they can pay attention and focus on what they are supposed to be learning. Prepare children at home by engaging them in activities and, rather than worrying too much about the activity itself, focus on training them to remain in their seat and be patient with what you’re doing.
It’s the same self-control that keeps them from jumping up and down in their dining room chair that helps them stay seated and pay attention to their teacher. Create a strong framework for learning by giving them the tools to be able to absorb and process information. Don’t worry too much if your neighbor’s kids seem to be little geniuses, children will learn in their own time if they have the tools.
2. Prepare your child for obedience, whether or not they are bored.
Being bored is a fact of life and will happen. I’ve written on how to prevent children from being bored all the time, but inevitably this will happen at school when they are finished with their work and then ready to move on. At home, training in obedience, self-control and discipline, even when they are bored, will go a long way in helping prevent naughty behavior at school.
Requiring them to sit in public when you are busy, having them stay beside you for short periods of time at home and read a book or color while you are occupied, these things will help show a child that they are able to control their urges. Also, explain to your children the “rules” of school. Proper explanation and sharing of expectations will go a long way in preparing a child’s mind for what’s to come.
3. Shepherd their heart, not just their brain.
I think that in the early years, moral and “heart attitude” training will take a child a lot further than simply teaching them facts, colors or their ABC’s. Now, don’t get me wrong, I love learning and teaching my children. However, if I had to pick one I’d pick the heart training. Heart training is not forcing your child to do what you decide is morally right. It’s living life alongside your child and communicating your values and important life concepts.
It’s using discipline to communicate what attitudes and behaviors are not acceptable, i.e. hatred, rebellion, violence, etc. and molding your child’s heart to be one that wants to do the right thing. Not as a mindless drone, but as a respectful child. Focus on behaviors that are naughty, train your child to be patient and obedient. I think you’ll then find that no matter how quick they pick up on the lesson, they won’t also become the class clown or troublemaker.
4. Communicate with the teacher and train at home as necessary.
As always, just keep abreast of what your angels are doing. If they are finding it hard to concentrate at school then there are plenty of opportunities for you to help them at home. If they are finding it hard to finish their work at school because they’re distracted or uninterested, same thing. It is the lessons and skills we give our children at home that enable them to excel and reach success. They can be the best students and the best behaved, the worst students and the worst behaved, or any combination in the middle. We definitely shouldn’t be afraid to give them tons of opportunities to soak up knowledge and information as long as we temper and balance it with heart and obedience training.
The fact is, we are far more likely to get in trouble if we’re bored (and this is true for teenagers too, hello). I used to get in trouble because I would finish my work fast and then try to talk to everyone else who was working. I’d have to go sit alone just so that I would shut up. Our children may be slower than average, average, or faster than average with their school work and in every other area of life. As parents and mothers all we can really do is to think, strategize, prepare and train the to the best of our ability and get on with it. After that it’s up to them.
Have you been told smart kids are the naughtiest? What do you think?