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Flashcards and Pusher Parents

Q: Some of my friends are doing flashcards with their kids — addition and subtraction, as well as sight words. Their kids are 2 years old. My son’s 3 and I wonder if I too should be tutoring him in academics.


A: Flashcards? At age 2? This kid is a candidate for serious issues later in life.

Pusher parents. Aren’t they fun? They pressure their children to be all that the parents themselves never were. These are the same parents that will have their daughters enrolled in gymnastics, dance, tennis, swimming, guitar, French, cotillion, karate, and macramé... before the age of 5. They will push their children to play every sport, excel in every subject and be flawless. I don’t like these people. Quitters, loafers and lazybones... those are my people.

I miss the time when preschool was for learning how to sit in a chair and hold a pencil while attempting a left-handed nose exploration. A time for finger paints and glue eating. Nowadays they are learning algebra. Seriously. My son is in the 1st grade and he had a mini project on anthropomorphization. (I had to look up the spelling of that for this column... and the definition.)

We (as parents, as Americans, as Dr. Phil watchers) want our children to be more, more, more...  victorious, thriving, triumphant. It saddens me that we put this type of pressure on our babies to be champions instead of letting them just have a carefree childhood. Who cares if they can’t add by the time they get into the 1st grade? They have a lifetime of education and only a very, very short time to be a slacker without being called one. Let them drink out of the sprinkler and fall asleep in front of SpongeBob. Let them make mud pies and play XBox 360 for four straight days. You are not making your child smarter by force-feeding math facts before they can properly hold a fork.

So, flashcards: no. Coloring the garage floor purple: yes. The best thing that you can do for your child at that age educationally is just read to him. Read to him and let him experience the joys of sleeping in a tent in your bathroom. Unless of course you’d like your child to one day wind up on Jerry Springer.

Jeanne Martin is a freelance writer and graphic designer by day, one sarcastic mother of two by dusk and completely unqualified to write this advice column at any time.

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