Why Being Advanced Doesn’t Really Matter

One of the first things I discovered being a mom is that I live in a culture where being advanced is applauded. When Timmy was a little over a year old, a local TV show featured a 2-year-old genius who can write and read like a 5-year-old. My mom even called me to watch and said Timmy could also be like that. While it sure was a compliment from a grandma who sees the potential of her first apo (grandchild), it really got me nervous.

InstagramCapture_0025089a-06fa-4f0c-8ac1-29cec0c942cbClearly, that kid was the exception and featuring him was a great idea. But then it also added unnecessary pressure to all the parents watching the show at that time. I remember feeling so competitive back then but when I looked at my baby who was exploring, walking tiptoed, touching everything out of curiosity I asked myself, “Do you really need to do all that at 2 years old?” So I decided not to let that show affect me but I still couldn’t shake the pressure that came along with it.

As parents we all want our children to succeed and do well in life. But as I navigate this parenting journey, I realized that success is relative and it’s up to us to define what that is to our kids. I’m proud of my son and all the things he accomplishes—big or small. But I also realized that he can’t possibly do well in everything.

Advanced but not quite

Timmy may be way too advanced in reading but he still doesn’t color within the lines and he still finds it difficult to use scissors. Whatever big words he knows today will also be read by other kids of his age when they all grow up. We all follow the same curriculum guide from the Department of Education (DepEd) anyway and they will all learn the same thing down the line.

InstagramCapture_8c77beba-6775-4bba-bc56-0d32fbd17cf7He may write fast and I mean quickly scribble the letters/words that come to his mind but he doesn’t draw the usual stick people, cars, or houses that most boys do. He’s unconventional in so many ways like going for bond paper over ruled paper, colored pens over pencils, paints over crayons—and God has been using all these things to remove the conventional student mold in my head, to get my cue from my child’s interests more than what traditional schools dictate.

InstagramCapture_0a5db76c-3001-4bbe-bda2-6fe890dc785dTimmy loves numbers and reads them by the thousands and enjoys skip counting of even and odd numbers. He’s so fascinated with numbers that he even memorizes car plates! Haha! But he’s a careless counter. He loses track of what he counts because he gets too excited. He tends to skip pointing on objects or points twice at the same thing. So we’re still working on his slow counting. 🙂 Slow, slow, slow like a sloth as Eric Carle would put it. 🙂

I need God’s grace to remind me continuously that I’m dealing with my child more than he is my student. And I guess this is something that every homeschooling mom struggles with, balancing our parent-teacher side. Every day I am learning to use his preferences as my teaching springboard to communicate with him more effectively. 🙂

WP_20150325_10_11_19_ProAlso, I have to keep reminding myself that he’s only four and to stick to what he needs to know at this age. I think it’s something that all newbie parents should keep into perspective—to never rush their kids, to enjoy every age and every stage. Because they really do grow up really fast. But that doesn’t mean I will limit him. I also have to be sensitive and follow where he wants to progress faster and at the same time rein him in if we’re going too fast so that he won’t get confused. 🙂

What really matters

I’m not an expert in parenting. I’ve been at it for only four years. And every time Timmy gets a year older, it’s a whole new ball game for me. Like when he turned four, I was so excited to know and discover with him what it’s like to be at that age again! 🙂 All this time God has been repeatedly teaching me to be gentle and patient with my child; to listen to his thoughts and stories; to ride on his interests and leverage it for learning; to spend quality time with him; and above all, to draw Timmy closer to Him.

20150516_161135I didn’t become a parent to raise a genius. There’s much more to parenting than teaching academic lessons. The values and life skills our children need to learn outweigh the need to master the 3 R’s (Reading, wRiting, and aRithmetic). They will learn those things eventually because they have to. But character building is a different story. We need to be more intentional on this one because they NEED this more than academics when they face the world on their own.

No one would care how smart your child is if he’s such a pain to work with. No one would bother to listen to him if he’s full of himself. He may be smart and talented in many ways but if all he wants is to get his way then no one would follow him. Companies now even value EQ more than IQ because anything can be learned these days. The way you deal with people and your overall work ethics are given more weight than head knowledge.

20130312_211104A teachable student can only come from a teachable heart. If my son doesn’t learn about obedience and respect first then he won’t listen to me. There are values that he needs to develop before he could even comprehend fractions or geography. He needs to learn patience, perseverance, hard work, honesty, humility, and more to help him not just with his academics but with real life challenges as well. Life skills are learned more easily when they have the foundational values first.

Like for example, cleaning up his toys took repetitive obedience before Timmy got used to it. You earn cooperation by doing things together like washing the dishes. It sure takes time and a lot of wasted water and dishwashing soap but seeing my son beam with pride makes it all worth it. Last night as he went down his chair (because he can’t reach the sink yet) he said, “Thank you for helping me wash the dishes!” It was as if he owned the chore and I was just there to help him! 🙂

Those little things help in easy transition to learning like, “Let’s read together! It’s writing time! Let’s count together!” Because you get to him to cooperate and participate on non-academic things, getting him on board during study time becomes much easier. 🙂 There’s so much more that our kids need to learn. Even us adults learn something new every day. So why stress out on getting everything right the first time or being ahead of everybody else?

20150517_094834At the end of the day, it’s never really about whose kid is advanced where. It isn’t about how many degrees my son will finish or how many awards he will get. I would rather measure his success by how many lives he will touch by his kindness and how many will follow his lead because of his integrity. It isn’t about finishing first all the time but about finishing well in life. 🙂

I remember my dad would always say about drivers overtaking, “Okay lang yan, sabay sabay din tayo sa dulo ng stoplight. (That’s okay, we’ll all meet at the stoplight anyway.)” Same goes with being advanced. Our kids will all get there. They will all become adults and converse like adults. But the question is, will they become responsible adults? Will they be part of a God-fearing generation who will walk with integrity? Will they be compassionate and kind?

20150516_161822While it may be great to have an “advanced child” let’s not forget to advance them on the things that matter. Let’s give them a head start on values and character building because those are the foundational life skills they need that will help them thrive in the real world. 🙂 I’m still learning and growing in these areas up to now, which is why I recognize that my son still has a long way to go. And that’s the beauty of parenting right there, you grow and learn together—and it never stops. 🙂

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56 thoughts on “Why Being Advanced Doesn’t Really Matter

  1. I can truly relate. My son is also 4 years old and his vocabulary is quite limited compared to other 4-year olds I know of. But I have to learn to be patient and know that he will follow through. 🙂 Great post!

  2. Completely agree with you and being a parent of an advanced kid, our focus always have been to let them enjoy their childhood and the wholistic growth 🙂 very true the point article. Like your writing.

  3. I followed this link through FB. Thank you for sharing your thoughts! This is very welcoming in a time where parents are too competitive at the expense of the children. I love it that you were able to express what our children really need. I am also a mother of four kids- my eldest is turning 9 in July and my youngest is 3. It’s quite a handful but I believe that character building should come first too. Beautifully written article- and so very true! Thanks Ivy! 🙂

  4. Good read. 🙂

    I am not a mother, but a teacher, and I tell you… it disheartens and stresses me out when parents get too “obsessed” with whether or not their child will receive a year end award. They are just missing the point.

    • Hi, MissF! Thank you for reading! 🙂 I’m sure it can be pretty discouraging to see that. While competition is good for kids, we should always strike the balance and parents could use some help from teachers like you! 🙂

  5. This is such an eye-opener for moms out there (like me) who become to engrossed with academic performance of our kids…you are right, indeed. What they need to know is how they would become good and responsible citizens. thanks for this article..:-)

  6. You are a great mom who is focusing on the big picture. My oldest is close to 15 but I learnt a lot from this beautifully written post. Your son is blessed and lucky to have you as his mother. God bless your family and keep guiding you everyday!

  7. Very nice article Miss Ivy. I even saved this article for me to re-read and re-read. I really agree with this as this is what I’m doing with my 2-year old son: “I think it’s something that all newbie parents should keep into perspective—to never rush their kids, to enjoy every age and every stage.” Thank you for sharing, I super love this article, a must share!

    • Thanks for reading, Jill! Oh yes, enjoy every moment!!! 🙂 That terrible two stage is not as terrible as it sounds. Heehee! It’s a super fun and cute season! 🙂 I’m sure you’re enjoying every minute of it. 🙂

  8. Good points here, Ivy. As the saying goes: Nobody cares what you know, until they know that you care.” Indeed, EQ is needed to survive the real world and should be the priority of every parent in the upbringing of their children.
    We always remind our 16 year old to focus on the values we have instilled in her and use them to get on with life. Success is not measured by how someone had become but how others had become because of him.

  9. What a lovely article coming from a warm-hearted mom! Why I didnt stumble this thoughts when my kids are Timmy’s age…:(
    Thank you for sharing! You took some load off my back. God bless you more. 😉

  10. I like your article! I , also, dislike the culture of applauding the advance kids because it already put more stress on my part.I think the issue here is that when parents are coveting what others possess-this time not material things but intellect. There are advance / genius children and they are blessed with that. God has purpose for these children. It becomes a problem when those that are not blessed with that gift, they become envious and jealous. It is already extra challenging to raise a child who reads at a 4th grade level at 4 years old; who does math/geometry/calculus like whiz. People may think she is great but still in my eyes she is a child. This child needs our guidance, love , care and protection from the world.

    I hope parents will understand that each child each unique and different. Stop comparing their kids to others.They may not be academically excellent or advanced but that does not make them any less. They are special and children of God. Each of us has a role to play in this world. How indifferent would it be if all children in this world are geniuses!

    I am glad to know that you homeschool . I homeschool too.:) I like that i can instill our Christian values and choose curriculum that fits my child’s learning style.

    • Hi, Claire! It’s such a blessing to have an advanced kid like yours and it’s a breath of fresh air to know that you treat her lovingly (not competitively) the way any 4 year old needs to be cared for. 🙂 Great to know you’re a homeschooling mom, too! 🙂

      • I just saw in your page that you are homeschooling there in P.I. All the while I thought you are in the US. Do you get to choose a curriculum? Are there umbrella schools that you can enroll or is it regulated only by Dep Ed.?

        • Hi, Claire! I will enroll my son in Peniel Christian Academy’s homeschool program. There are a lot of providers that are DepEd accredited. You can look for me in Facebook and we can chat there if you want. 🙂

  11. Thanks for this mommy. I too have the same sentiments as yos. My son isn’t in homeschooling but he is really an advanced kid, started reading at two among other achievements at a young age. He is 8 now and was tested to have a mental ability that of a 16 year old boy making his lolas and aunts so excited to have him accelerated. But personally, just like you i really believe of building more on the character than the intellect. He’s maybe advanced in his mental age bs actions sometimes are so infuriating that reminds me of how much more hs to learn about dealing with himself, with the others and all other people around him. Intellect will not totally never speak of his capabilty to go through life and work but emotional quotient will be a huge help.
    I have the same vision such as yours for my son and thank you for your article coz my belief was at least backed up. Both of us may be young and new to the parenting profession but our dreams for our children arent.

    Thank you very much mommy and God bless always.

    • Thank you for sharing! Having a smart son can be pretty challenging, too, no? But I admire you for prioritizing his EQ and character. I pray that he grows to be an admirable, God-fearing adult the way you aspire him to be. 🙂 God bless you, too!

  12. Very inspiring, I really pray that I could also raise a Good person in my son. My husband always tells me, that the happiness of my son must always comes first rather than the medals and awards that he could give us to make us happy. It’s really hard to stay focused on this in the kind of society we have that puts pressure to us to have an achiever child. But with prayers, I know God will be guiding us to be good parents.b

  13. Hi, Ivy! I can’t help not to comment and commend you for being a mindful mom to your Timmy! I’ve been wanting to share the same thing years already, I just can’t seem to gather my thoughts the way you’ve gathered yours.

    I am beyond pleased to find that not all moms are the same; you know, the “competitive” type of moms or parents who seem to be so obsessed with how their kids fare well when it comes to academics. Those types that once the school bell rings for dismissal, moms couldn’t help but share or “brag” that their kids are great achievers in terms of reading, writing and arithmetic.

    There’s nothing wrong with being proud of what the kids have academically accomplished; it’s just that I felt it’s also wrong to make other moms feel like their kids are slow learners when in reality, every child is different, especially when it comes to learning things. Competitive parenting is so destructive.

    Thank you again for this post. You inspired me to share my thoughts about this, too. And yes, learning should be fun.

    God bless you!

    • Thanks so much, Ira! And I do share your sentiments. There’s a fine line between encouraging kids to excel and PUSHING them. It gets really blurred these days. Love your blog, too! A mom of 3 boys? YOU’RE A ROCKSTAR! 🙂 God bless you and your family! 🙂

  14. Wow!! Thank you! I needed to read this. I am a first time mom and I know that I am not supposed to but, I keep comparing my 14-month old son to the sons of our neighbor. They are advance for their age and I want my son to be like them. One time, they posted a video of their youngest son (my son’s age) doing stacking cubes. I got envious because my son will not do it too, he just want to mess with the cubes. I am learning to accept that every baby/child is different. So, i just let my son play and guide him to the right path.

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