I have been thinking a lot about how we raise our children nowadays and have been querrying, “Do we push our kids too much?”

When I was a child, I remember enjoying a story called “The Best Nest” in Grade two. I wrote a story related to it in my school literary contest and won second prize. This was a big deal for me. My own children read this book when they were in preschool or kindergarten, two or more years prior to me!  Also, many children in my community have been enrolled in Kumon or Sylvan Learning Centre, even though they are not having learning challenges, in order to do BETTER than everyone else! Is it just me, or is there something we need to reevaluate and change about the way we parent?

The other day, I heard about a girl in our community who is enrolled in an extracurricular activity every day of the week, and sometimes, she has two activities per day. On top of this, she has her studies. There is next to no time for relaxing, regenerating, having quality family time or having an old fashioned play date with a friend. I feel that these are all requirements for well rounded individuals who achieve in life.

I was always considered to be a good student in school (not the valedictorian, but good), who tried very hard and achieved well because of this. Later on, I earned a masters degree and have enjoyed a healthy degree of success in my life. While I was involved in extracurriculars, I do not think my after school schedule was nuts.  I had plenty of down time and time for play dates. In spite of “only” reading “The Best Nest” in grade two, I still became literate and achieved in school. If I and people like myself in my generation have turned out okay, then why are we expecting so much of our children?

I remember something wise my father shared with me. He said, “It is not the person who graduated at the top of his class who became the most  successful. In fact, it was the people who had developed the best social skills and who were well rounded”. One can have a plethora of fancy achievements hanging on her wall, but if she is not well rounded and does not have good social skills, she may have a hard time becoming successful in life.

I love what my dad shared with me. When I feel stressed about keeping up with families who are pushing their children, I try to remember what he said. I feel  that those families have it all wrong. I know now that it is not the kid who had the MOST training or the EARLIEST training or even who was at the top of his class, but rather, it is the one who was allowed to grow naturally in due time with an adequate amount of time to relax, regenerate, and to have quality time with family and friends who will be most successful in life.

Written By: Jill Topp

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