What if Everybody Understood Child Development? Part 2

Rae Pica


According to Marcy Guddemi, executive director of the Gesell Institute of Child Development, children are not reaching their developmental milestones any sooner than they did in 1925 when Arnold Gesell first did his research. “One of our misguided expectations right now in the education field is that every child should leave kindergarten reading. Well, not every child is going to leave kindergarten reading.” A child’s development absolutely cannot be accelerated or hurried in any way.


Politicians pander to the ridiculous notion that education is a race. And teachers – from preschool to the primary grades – are being forced to abandon their understanding of what is developmentally appropriate and teach content they know to be wrong for kids.


Demanding that children perform skills for which they’re not yet ready creates fear and frustration in them.

Childhood is not a dress rehearsal for adulthood. It is a separate, unique, and very special phase of life. And we’re essentially wiping it out of existence in a misguided effort to ensure children get ahead.


We do have a great deal of research detailing the impact of stress on the learning process. Dr. William Stixrud sums it up quite nicely when he writes, “stress hormones actually turn off the parts of the brain that allow us to focus attention, understand ideas, commit information to memory and reason critically.”

Studio Screaming Microphone Yelling Boy Sing

The experts insist that today’s children are no less safe than children of my generation. Stranger danger, which tends to top the list of parents’ fears, truly is a myth. According to the U. S. Department of Justice statistics on violent crimes, between 1973 and 2002, out of every thousand children kidnapped, just one of two of them were abducted by strangers. In fact, according to the National Center for Health Statistics, children are four times more likely to die of heart disease than to be kidnapped by a stranger.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA stranger

The pressure for students to spend more time on academics and to pass test after test – to win the race that education has become – is so great that basic human needs are being ignored and unmet.

  • Numerous studies have demonstrated that physically active students perform better in, and have better attitudes toward, school.
  • Movement is the young child’s preferred – and most effective – mode of learning, but we make them sit still regardless. Why do we insist on teaching children in any way other than via their preferred – and most effective – method?

When children move over, under, around, through, beside, and near objects and others, they better grasp the meaning of these prepositions and geometry concepts. When they perform a “slow walk” or skip “lightly”, adjectives and adverbs become much more than abstract ideas. When they’re given the opportunity to physically demonstrate such action words as stomp, pounce, stalk, or slither – or descriptive words such as smooth, strong, gentle, or enormous – word comprehension is immediate and long-lasting. The words are in context, as opposed to being a mere collection of letters.


The Mislabled Child

Thinking Goes to School:Piaget’s Theory in Practice

Reading Instruction in Kindergarten

Tell Me Everything You Don’t Remember The Stroke that Changed My Life


Christine Hyung-Oak Lee

This is the story of a young woman’s troubled life told by her now much less-troubled self. I recommend the book due to the quality of Christine Hyung-Oak Lee’s writing and how she is able to share the experiences of her stroke at age thirty-three. While the effects of all brain injuries and diseases are not the same, the mental, psychological, and physical experiences she lived through are similar to those of others. She also addresses the life-changes and challenges of those who are caregivers to this population of people who are changed in invisible ways. Continue reading

The Intuitive Parent


Stephen Camarata

Stephen Camarata defines intuitive parenting as “focusing on your child, enjoying the moment, and reacting naturally to whatever your baby is doing.” This may sound simplistic and naïve, but we now have research to support our intuitions. Continue reading

Worried Sick

A Prescription for Health in an Overtreated America

Nortin M. Hadler, MD

The theme of this book is clearly stated on the first page; “We are becoming increasingly medicalized, made to think that all life’s challenges demand clinical intervention, when the science dictate’s otherwise”. p. 1…

We don’t know why heart attacks are no longer so common or so evil. Medicine deserves little if any credit. But heart attacks are no longer your father’s heart attacks. p. 17

Continue reading

The Gardener and the Carpenter: Part 5

Growing Up

Alison Gopnik


There is a parallel between the contemporary dilemmas of parenting and the equally ferocious dilemmas of schooling. Like parents, educators often have a scientifically inaccurate picture of learning and development. In fact, they share the same inaccurate picture. The misleading idea is that education is supposed to shape a child into a particular kind of adult. The remarkable spread of standardized testing is a particularly good example of this. A school’s job becomes creating children who will score well on standardized tests. Continue reading

The Gardener and the Carpenter: Part 2

Against Parenting

Alison Gopnik

In the introduction to her book, Alison Gopnik reveals the paradoxes inherent in the parenting model. In the following section, she explains the origin of the model and why it does not meet the immediate needs of children and parents. The model also fails to meet the long-term needs of children as they transition to adults which is its entire rationale. Support from both the humanities and science adds credence to her position. Continue reading