Since Aristotle started school, it seems we have had more than our fair share of meetings with his teachers to address his misdemeanours at school. All in all, I think he’s been to the school’s office more times in his short experience of school than I have in all my schooling years. It’s a scary thought for a parent considering how many more years of school he has in store.
It was recently suggested to me that this is happening because Aristotle is too advanced for most of his peers at school which tends to isolate him. In turn, he expresses his frustrations through these minor transgressions. The solution that was suggested to me was to hold back his mental development and stop whatever activities I do with him outside of school. The belief is that once the other children catch up with him and he becomes “more like them”, these disciplinary issues should right themselves.
I have to say that I cringed when I heard that. The very idea of holding back a child’s development so that he can be “more like everyone else”? I was speechless. Would you tell a child to stop swimming so that the other children can catch up to him?
As much as I dislike dwelling on genetics and in-born talent (what we are is 50% nature and 50% nurture and I usually tend not to focus on the former because it seems pointless to waste my thoughts on that which I cannot change), it is evident that Aristotle’s talent is his acuity. By acuity I do not mean that he started talking early, or that he has always been very articulate for his age, or even that he reads well for his age. By some of these measures, I would say that Hercules is ahead of him, and yet, I do not feel that Hercules has the mental acuity of Aristotle. There is a certain quality to Aristotle’s mind that I cannot describe adequately and I know that to deny his development is to deny him the opportunity to hone that talent much as we would be denying the swimmer by asking him not to swim.
Besides, even if I stopped all his developmental activities, I do not believe that it would be the answer to his disciplinary problems at school. I will not go so far as to say that there is no link between the two but regardless of whether there is a link or not, the answer is definitely not holding a child back.
It reminds me of an argument I used to hear regarding early learning that goes something like, “Oh, if your child learns all this before school, won’t he be bored at school?” Why are we trying so hard to make our children fit into a preset mould, especially if it means compromising their development? That’s the worst reason I have ever heard for not wanting our children to do any special pre-school activities. Even the misconceived notion that teaching children math and reading and other subjects in infancy or toddlerhood is damaging is not as bad. At least this is a real perceived reason even if it misconceived.
Aristotle may be cognitively advanced, but emotionally, he is still a child of his physical age. Just because I was never in the school’s office as much doesn’t mean that I was a “normal” child and Aristotle “abnormal”. If the stories are true, it would appear that hubby spent a great deal of his childhood in mischief making. Perhaps Aristotle is simply more like his father in this regard and this is just something I’m going to have to learn to deal with. For what it’s worth, Aristotle has never had a repeat offense after we have “dealt with the issue”, he just comes up with new ones. Is it fair to say that we are making progress as far as disciplinary measures go? After all, if hubby became a law-abiding citizen, a good and kind husband, and a responsible father in spite of all the trouble he used to get into, surely there is hope still for my son.
These are just my thoughts. Feel free to add your thoughts in the comments – I welcome them. I know there are many other parents reading this with cognitively advanced children in school so I hope you can share your experiences and your thoughts about this particular subject.