Here’s another update I’m sharing from a friend that recently posted it on Facebook, Kelly Phillips Erb. Apparently, I’ve got a number of friends who are sharing some really great stuff on Facebook lately right? This update focuses on whether or not we should be pushing and accelerating our kids through their educational years as fast as we are. Or, perhaps not deciding one way or another, but making sure we’re conscious of the reasons we’re doing so and understand the ramifications of that effort in the long run. Would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.
Today, I overheard parents discussing how they are putting their kids in summer school so that they can graduate early. The plan is to stack college credits in high school so the kids (and they are still kids) can get through college in three years and start graduate school early. The one mom said, “She’s going to compete, she’s going to get it done.”
I don’t purport to be an expert on parenting. Goodness knows, I have made and continue to make mistakes as a mom. Just like all of us, I’m learning as I go.
But I want to tell you a story. Many of you know that I started school at age 4 (after loudly complaining that my brother got to go to school). I skipped a grade. I left home at age 14 to attend a residential high school. I started college at age 16.
I was always the youngest (except at law school, thanks Ambreen). I was always trying to prove myself. I was always rushing. I wanted to keep finishing early because I wanted to start the next chapter as quickly as I could. And I don’t regret any of those things because every step along the way – even the mistakes – made me who I am today.
But I do want to say this. As a mom, the thing I want to teach my kids more than anything is to ENJOY.EVERY.MOMENT. Don’t rush.
All of that speeding ahead? Yes, it gave me some opportunities – but I’m not so sure that I wouldn’t have found them anyway. The things I missed? The school trips? The parties? Hanging out after school? Lazy summers? I can’t get those back.
I have resisted efforts to skip or rush my kids. The most we relented was letting Ames take an accelerated math class. I have good kids and they are doing well in school. They enjoy playing sports and attending clubs at school. In summers, we’ve been traveling, not taking classes (Kate excepted but she did that on her own as an online class). I know that achievement is important and I try hard to balance their own appetites for success with the understanding that they also need some time to have fun and be carefree. The stresses associated with adulting will come soon enough.
Studies prove that we don’t laugh as much as adults as we do as kids. We’re not as active. We don’t take as many risks. Somewhere along the way, we lose all of that. I think about that a lot now that I’m older. And I intend to let my kids be kids for as long as I can.
* Edited to make clear (as in the comments) that I’m not suggesting that skipping and accelerated classes are bad ideas. Skipping was the right choice for me and my kids are taking some of those accelerated classes. There may be valid reasons – like avoiding college debt as Miranda Marquit points out – for some of these choices. When it comes to my family, I just want to make sure those reasons include something other than just being first.
Kelly Phillips Erb and an attorney with The Erb Law Firm PC, in suburban Philadelphia, PA, where she focuses on tax law for individuals and businesses. Erb is also mom to three children, so she can add “dinosaur expert”, “cupcake baker” and “princess dress designer” to her resume.
Are you pushing your kids to get double-credit for classes and courses in college and high school? Are you letting things happen on a slower, perhaps more organic level with that accomplishments and educational goals? Again, I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.