What Is The Right Age For Children To Know? - A controversial post. - Why not let kids be kids?
Across the country, parents have been arrested and scrutinized for speaking out about what they believe is best for their children. So, as expected, emotions will run high. This is a passionate subject for parents. But, along the way, we must ask ourselves some questions.
What is the role of our educators, our Boards of Education members, and our lawmakers?
Are they responsible for raising our children and providing them with education?
How much say should they have?
Where does politics have a role in this?
All great questions. Here is a phrase you are all familiar with, "FOLLOW THE SCIENCE." In most cases where studies and data have been compiled, as in the case of child development, that is primarily true because these are proven scientific facts. However, there are times when other factors that must be considered. One of those factors is CHOICE. In addition, these studies take into account the "General" population. Not a single individual and we all know each individual is different.
We also have the "WOKE CULTURE" movement. Why not, we have a movement for everything else nowadays. For those of you that do not understand what "Woke" culture is, it's a movement of people who are alert to injustice in society, especially racism. Injustice can and does encompass many things. This is why they get to choose what they will speak out against. Injustice is a vague word and is not limited to the justice system, as many believe.
Also, is this a place for corporate America to be involved? Let's take Disney for example. No more using the phrases "Boys and Girls," or Ladies and Gentleman." Now the term should be "Friends." Honestly, I don't have a problem with that. The problem arises in how they promote, present, or reinforce this new culture and terminology, what they want to impress upon our children. Do they have the right to do that?
Another question might be, does corporate America have to right to try to repeal what lawmakers have passed into law when the nature of their business is NOT affected and NOT part of their business model. There are those in the Disney organization that have certain beliefs. Beliefs they are perfectly entitled to have. Should they impress those beliefs onto others because they have the forum in which to do it? Maybe you can call it a captive audience.
Remember, we are talking about young children. The innocent, inquisitive, and have not reached the stage of emotional or mental development allowing them the tools to decide for themselves, let alone understand the complexity of the issues. Is that the job of Disney? Are they taking into account those that may have learning disorders? Disney might find itself with far fewer customers because of this drastic change in its business model and forgetting why its founder Walt Disney created Disney. We must ask ourselves, where is CEO Bob Chapek in all of this?
We are all entitled to our opinions. However, when it comes to what and when sexuality, social issues, sexual preferences, and more are presented to our children, which generally starts in the fifth grade, does not give anyone the right to impress these views on K thru grade three children. For decades this has been the role of the parents, not business, not schools, not lawmakers, and certainly not those with political aspirations. This is an intimate and passionate subject for most parents, if not all parents. Do you think a company that has achieved its success through their appeal to children display their beliefs to children through their terminology and how they present their fictional characters? Unless you believe that Mickey and Minnie mouse are real talking mice. In this writer's opinion, NO. It is not their responsibility to influence in any way shape or manner or introduce or sway their sexual beliefs to our children.
CHILDREN AND PARENTS:
Children grow, develop, and understand things at different rates. It is not a one size fits all stocking. Anyone who has raised children knows that they can be easily confused, are curious, and ask many questions. At an early age, they learn by what they see, by example, association, and other methods we will discuss. We call this age group "the impressionable years."
As a race, we are driven by emotions. These emotions can be based on our beliefs, our upbringing, the era we were raised in, and our own experiences. As a writer, a parent, and a grandfather, it can be challenging to keep my beliefs and emotions separate from the facts. However, I raised three children: two boys and a girl. I am proud to say they have grown into intelligent and productive adults. Unfortunately, they were raised when topics such as cancel culture, discrimination, and sexual content were NOT taught to a child at the age our educators wish to start introducing these concepts to our children in today's society. Much of that education was left to parents. Should that remain the same?
When my children went to school, they said the pledge of allegiance to the flag each morning. Religious instructions were offered after school. Books with illicit sexual content were not in the public school system library at a child's young age. Issues regarding same-sex relationships, sexual preferences, cancel culture, woke culture, and racism, were also not issues discussed in the classroom at these younger ages.
Sex education was taught during Biology class at the grade level and age where a child would not only learn about the principles of sex education but have the cognitive ability to understand it.
Yes, sexual preferences existed back then? However, people were not as open about their preferences as they are today. During those times, which is not that long ago, these preferences were not considered socially accepted practices. That may have been the wrong way to handle this issue, but those were the times and how people believed. Like everything in life, that is part of the evolutionary process of society and acceptance in general. The central theme about sex, pre-marital sex, marriage, and many more topics were taught by a child's parents. There are also pros and cons to this because parental teaching could be biased due to the parents' beliefs. Remember, children aren't born racist; it is something they learn to become. Primarily due to the poor example of society.
With that said, I fully support the rights of all individuals to live their lives openly, freely, and without race, color, gender, creed, or sexual discrimination. The purpose of this post lies with the debate as to what is the right age for children to learn about these issues in the school system, and should the school system have the right to slam it down your throats?
This is where science comes in before the moral issue. Shouldn't these topics be presented at a time in a child's development when they are mentally and emotionally developed to the point where they will learn and comprehend it?
The other debate is what rights do parents have and what input should they have on what and when their children learn about these topics in school? Unlike a basic math equation such as 2 + 2 = 4, these are complex issues and not straightforward. Children develop and comprehend things differently. Some are more advanced than others. We live within an education system that has failed tremendously to maintain a high level of basic educational standards such as reading, writing, and math. The school system has been doing this for decades. How bad will they screw up sex education if they are failing in these other areas?
I do NOT blame our teachers for these failures. They much teach the curriculum the Board of Education sets as the standard. Many Boards of Education have lost focus on their primary purpose. Over the past few years, the USA has fallen behind in its educational and academic achievement levels as compared to other countries. Here is a link to The Washington Post Article describing this in reading, math, and science. I have provided the link not to take up to much time discussing statistics. THE WASHINGTON POST.
Although we are doing better, we still lag other countries. WHY? In theory, whenever there is a lag in any area, the cause is usually a lack of attention in those areas. I ask you. Why is there such a push to teach our children about these other topics at such a young age rather than concentrating on the basic skills first? It is evident from the data and science that children will not fully comprehend what they are being taught. This includes sexual preferences, cancel culture, discrimination, selective learning of history, woke culture, and others? These are complex issues. As with any problem, someone must be able to comprehend it thoroughly and all aspects of the topic. In addition, at younger ages, being required to read books that are required reading that has explicit sexual content causes the same problems.
In early childhood development years, the basic skills are taught yearly and reinforced each year as new material is presented. There is another true saying.
A BABY IS NOT BORN PREJUDICED. PREJUDICE IS A LEARNED BEHAVIOR.
At younger ages, children learn by watching others. In school, their peers, their family, and their parents. They also learn by example. Over the past couple of decades, children and young adults have learned not to fall as deeply into this trap. Prejudice lies primarily in adults in today's society. The reality is children, teenagers, and young adults get along much better as a culture than full-grown adults. It's time to review IMPORTANT FACTS.
(An Overview. Click on the link above for the full article.)
During the first two months of life, newborns react automatically to external stimuli. Newborns can move their heads from side to side, see close-up objects, turn towards sounds and cry to indicate a need. By the third month of life, newborns start to smile at people.
A lot of new abilities develop quickly by the time a child turns 1 year old:
At 3-6 months of age, infants can recognize familiar faces, begin to babble, control their head movements and bring their hands together.
By 6-6 months of age, infants start sitting without support, may bounce when held in a standing position, and respond to people calling their name. Infants start communicating with gestures.
Between 9-12 months old, children can point at things, pick up objects, crawl, and even stand with support. Children can imitate sounds and gestures.
When children are between 1-3 years of age, they can stand alone, learn to walk without help, begin to run, and climb stairs with short steps. Children can wave bye-bye, hold a pencil or crayon, draw a circle, learn to say several words and even short sentences, and even follow simple instructions.
Between 3-5, children’s motor skills become refined. Children can throw and catch a ball, skip and hop, learn to dress themselves, and draw proper structures such as a flower. They can speak a complete, long sentence and even 2-3 sentences in a stretch easily. With toilet training, they begin to go to the toilet in the bathroom and use the facility all by themselves by the age of 4 years old.
School-age is the age between 6-17 years old. During this age, children learn to become independent and form their own opinions. Learning, speaking, and writing becomes well established. Children develop various emotions such as jealousy, love, and many more and can express them through words and gestures. They develop friendships and usually make best friends at this stage. Sexual development around and after puberty makes children interested in dating.
If you are concerned that your child is lagging in a certain stage of life, schedule an appointment with your child’s pediatrician to discuss it. The pediatrician may perform a developmental screening test that can help you know whether your child is normal or has some developmental disorders.
LET'S FOCUS ON SCHOOL-AGE:
The ages we are concerned with are ages 5 thru 8, which are traditionally Kindergarten to third grade. These are the ages some educational leaders wish to introduce all these additional life concepts to our children. Ideas that Governors such as Ron DeSantis of Florida and others are speaking out against. Kudos Governor DeSantis.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), The ages of middle childhood falls between 6-8 years of age. During that time the following changes take place.
Middle childhood brings many changes in a child’s life. By this time, children can dress themselves, catch a ball more easily using only their hands, and tie their shoes. Having independence from family becomes more important now. Events such as starting school bring children this age into regular contact with the larger world. Friendships become more and more important. Physical, social, and mental skills develop quickly at this time. This is a critical time for children to develop confidence in all areas of life, such as through friends, schoolwork, and sports.
Here is some information on how children develop during middle childhood:
Children in this age group might:
Show more independence from parents and family.
Start to think about the future.
Understand more about his or her place in the world.
Pay more attention to friendships and teamwork.
Want to be liked and accepted by friends.
Thinking and Learning
Children in this age group might:
Show rapid development of mental skills.
Learn better ways to describe experiences and talk about thoughts and feelings.
Have one's focus on one’s self and more concern for others.
One thing to take note of. Two keywords that stand out are STARTING TO and DEVELOPING. This means they are in the beginning stages of the cognitive (learning and understanding) stage. This does not mean they can fully comprehend and understand just yet. The complexity surrounding these sexual topics is NOT something a child should be introduced to at an age where their brain cannot fully comprehend these concepts.
During the ages of 2-7, a child's brain develops in spurts called "CRITICAL PERIODS." SEE FULL ARTICLE.
It is a lengthy but informational article. However, I want to point out one crucial section.
Don’t Treat Young Children’s Education as Merely a Precursor to “Real" Learning.
Children's brains can uniquely absorb information during this critical phase. If intelligence is defined as the ability to learn, children between the ages of 2 and 7 may be the most intelligent humans on the planet.
Research suggests that some skills cannot be learned nearly as well after this first critical period of brain development. For example, research shows that children in this age range are best suited to learn the patterns of language development, enabling them to master a second language to the same level as a native language. However, once children reach age 8, their language learning proficiency decreases, and second languages are not spoken as well as native ones. The same age effect is found when learning musical abilities such as perfect pitch.
It is noteworthy that Einstein's parents did not enroll him in physics lessons—the field that would lead him to a Nobel Prize. Instead, Einstein's father included him in his work as an engineer. His mother signed him up for violin lessons because she wanted him to love and appreciate music. Both activities worked to develop his young mind holistically. It is tempting to think of early childhood education as a precursor to "real" education. But these may be the years that matter most.
We must NEVER confuse the ability to learn with the ability to understand.
Since this is a blog post rather than an article, I have summarized the important points to know. However, there are dozens of other studies that draw the same conclusion. Frankly, I am shocked that Child Psychology Professionals aren't screaming about this. I believe I have shown, without a reasonable doubt, that at these ages, it is NOT the correct time to introduce these socially complex topics to children and expect them to understand them. During this development phase, K through grade 3, this is the time to enhance the basic skills. Therefore, would we be doing or causing more harm than good? Would we be causing additional confusion to our children?
Allow me to present a series of questions for you to think about. This portion of this post is not about data or science. Instead, it is about basic common sense.
Who is raising my children? The parents or the school system?
Should any school system tell parents they have no say what, and at what age, a child learns something in school?
Are more children being homeschooled?
What are the downfalls of homeschooling?
Let's be clear about this. Although the school system plays an essential role in a child's development, PARENTS RAISE THEIR CHILDREN, NOT THE SCHOOL SYSTEM. Parents are the primary caregivers and have the ultimate responsibility to their children.
The best trait of any leadership position(s), such as a board of education, is the ability to LISTEN to what parents have to say and how they feel. Parents will have to contend with any mental or emotional side effects any child experiences that the education system causes. More children are being homeschooled, which has become more prevalent due to the pandemic but has increased because parents disagree with their school systems' programs. However, there are downfalls to homeschooling. The two most significant are some parents who are not educated in modern teaching methods or current subject matter. They may not have the proper tools to be as effective or not understand what they are trying to teach.
The second downfall is emotional development, which is how a child learns to interact with others. There is increasing documentation that homeschooled children tend to be less outgoing and slightly introverted. However, there are still studies in progress about this; therefore, I do not believe the early data merits citing at this time since homeschooling became more prevalent during the pandemic.
I stated earlier in my introduction that parents are being arrested and removed from school meetings because their emotions get out of control. Why wouldn't they when they are not being listened to? A concerned parent wants to be heard regarding any essential issues that affect their children, and they should be. If these educators took the time and showed the patience to listen and understand, outbursts would not occur. Parents, by nature, are protective of their children, as they should be. Do you think any board of education should have complete control of your child's learning without any input from parents?
Much of this started a few years back when a school board made certain sexually explicit books required readings for students at an age where parents felt it was inappropriate for their child. Let's remember that most of the tax dollars collected by our respective towns and cities pay for the education system for that municipality. Therefore, it makes sense that a taxpayer, especially a parent, should have a say, be listened to, respected, and can institute change with a constructive objection.
Speaking as a father for a moment, I certainly felt that when my children were early school-aged, I had a say in what they were taught and how. Many lawmakers are now taking the parents' side; lawmakers such as Governor Ron Desantis of Florida. No Board of Education should have that much control and not have a responsibility to answer to the parents of the children whose education they are entrusted to provide. In this writer's opinion, this is basic common sense.
During normal development, many children struggle with their own identity and learning who and what they are. The school system is NOT out to destroy our children or grandchildren. I would like to believe their intentions are genuine, and they want children to be able to understand life and society, as well as understand some of the emotions they may be experiencing. However, there are too many politics involved for me to believe that. I believe their methods are misplaced due to the pressure society places upon them. Teachers are trained to notice problems in a child. Should that be the case, parents should be notified, which they are, and if professional help is required, it should be sought out. However, they should not be adding to the confusion.
A child's brain can absorb much information—more than we give them credit for. However, as I stated earlier, learning something and understanding it is two different things.
With all of this said, I support every parent, lawmaker, and individual who properly objects to what and when their child learns something in school. In all fairness, these issues should be taught in school correctly and at the appropriate time of a child's development. A time when they will not only learn the information but understand it. As they grow and mature, they will make their own choices, as we all did.
As parents, we may not always agree with our children's choices as they become young adults. That is normal, and our job is to guide them properly. However, when a child reaches a certain age, they have as much right to live their life as they choose as their parents did and presently do. Make no mistake. You are their parents. You have a say. You should always adequately address your concerns. Anger and violence NEVER result in a positive outcome. In the end, the only people we are hurting are our children. In my case, as with many others, my grandchildren. The most challenging part of being a parent is letting go and letting their children live their own life. Especially if we do not agree with their choices, that is the cycle of life.
Sex education is essential. It is critical to a child's development, but much of that is the parents' job. The education system knows that many parents are single parents or two parents working more than one job. Their intentions are noble, and they are taking a path they believe is in the child's best interest in today's society. As I stated, they are NOT out to destroy your children. Although their decisions should never be politically based, we all know to some degree they are. However, our school boards have a listening disorder. They have forgotten they have parents to answer to. They fail to listen and believe they are not almighty God and have the final say.
As parents, part of that is our fault because many do not have time to attend Board of Education meetings until something serious happens. Therefore, by default, we have enabled them to have free reign. The reality is, they do NOT. These are our children and grandchildren. The responsibility is ours before any others. Not all parents can afford to send their children to private schools where these issues are NOT as prevalent and, in many cases, non-existent, but should they have to? Never be ashamed to speak out when it comes to the welfare of your children and what you as a parent believe is in their best interest. That is your right as their parents and never give those rights up.
Stay safe and be well,
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