Monday, October 19, 2009

FYI, Kids Aren't Little Adults

A trend that I noticed at the school I worked at--and, for that matter, a trend with many other teachers/professionals/whatever--is the assumption that children should behave like little adults.


Kids don't behave like little adults, and their teachers, of all people, should know this. Children, especially younger ones, have trouble with the following:

1. Sitting still for long lengths of time.
2. Not talking for long lengths of time, especially when allowed to sit by friends.
3. Knowing when it is appropriate to ask questions and when it's appropriate to wait.
4. Staying calm when something fun is happening during the day, such as a holiday event or an extra long recess, etc.
5. Staying spotlessly clean.
6. Many other things.

I mean, come on. Kids are kids. They like to run and play and ask questions. They're curious--this goes away for most people as they get older. By and large, the kids I worked with were all still excited to learn... but they were equally excited to go outside and play with their friends at recess.

So no, children don't act like little adults. They won't sit idly through a boring presentation/lesson, they won't pretend to care about something that doesn't interest them, and they won't nod and understand if their school cuts their recess time.

Seriously. Just let kids be kids. Everyone needs a childhood.


  1. You know, I agree. I had problems with some/most of those things when I was a kid, and I turned into a fine adult with a very fulfilling childhood. I'm intelligent and dedicated, but when I was a kid I was a kid. Kids aren't adults, and the best educators realize this and tailor lessons and learning to how children learn, not how adults learn.

  2. Right - and the problem is that now when kids are restless or excited to go to recess, they're classified as ADHD instead of just a typical energetic child.

  3. Talk about overmedicating. Rather than deal with a child, most people would rather give them an "easy" diagnosis and dope them up. WTF.

  4. In regard to the comments: I feel like ADHD is overdiagnosed, but I also feel that it's more and more common because of the way kids are raised. Put a kid in front of a television for long enough, with the fast-changing images, or give them gadgets that do crazy shit all the time, and you're not going to get a kid to sit still for anything. They have short attention spans ANYWAY. Five minutes is a LIFETIME to a five-year-old. They don't want to listen. And overstimulating them at home with these high-tech toys just makes it worse. Don't give it a name and medicate the disorder - prevent and treat the causes.

    In regard to the entry: Consider this! A six-year-old boy in my county was just suspended for bringing in a camping set to school----with a knife----because he wanted to eat with it in a cafeteria. It's the same thing. Zero-tolerance policies sound good on paper, but he's six. He's not a grownup. He doesn't know better. He wanted to use his camp tool to eat his lunch and he got suspended. Or think about the case where a six year old boy was suspended for taking a button off a little girl's shirt because he wanted to play Corduroy (remember the bear with the missing button?) - and the school called it sexual harassment. At age SIX.

  5. Six year olds barely know WHERE their penises are, much less how to use them. Sexual harassment? That's insane.

  6. Hah, well, boys at that age DO know about penises - the boys in preschool go through a penis phase when they like to take it out and show it off. They're not being sexual, they're being boys, and then they learn--and reach the next phase--where they understand it's not okay to do that.

    Zero tolerance policies don't work. Administrators need to just be responsible and consider each case that comes before them and make the right decision. They don't have to be all self-righteous and say that if they let one child get away with something, every child gets away with it. No. That's not true. One child gets away with it because he didn't know any better and is totally innocent; another doesn't because he brought his knife to school and cut someone. It's quite simple.

    In response to ADHD stuff, I fully believe that part of the problem is adults not wanting to deal with kids and their energy. So, instead they basically medicate them into a stupor because they're irritated by short attention spans and high energy. Seriously, give a kid a basketball and let him run around outside, and he'll be totally happy. People need to just chill out and realize that there aren't easy fixes for everything. Sometimes you just have to be a responsible adult and understand that not everything in life is easy.