Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Is Average OK?

average children


Once upon a time, at our homeschool co-op, another mom saw a  Redwall book sticking out of my 8 year old son's backpack.
"Is he reading that?"  she asked me, surprised by the size of the book. (hardback, 300+ pages)
"Nah, he just stuck it in there to fill his backpack, " the snarky me thought about saying. But instead, I replied,
"Yes, he loves the Redwall series."
She lamented that her son, who was slightly older, would be intimidated by a book that size.

I think this scene, in various forms, plays out quite frequently for parents.  We look at other children and compare them to our own.  If those children are excelling at something our children are only average in, we wonder what we are doing wrong.  If our children are excelling in an area, we tend to think we have it all figured out.  Neither thought extreme (I can't do anything right/I'm doing everything right) is correct.

A curious mom on a facebook group recently asked: "Is average OK?  I read about all these children who are super gifted and talented, some even labeled as 'semi-genius'.  I just want my kids to have fun, love God, and seek their passions." I suspect she is not alone in wondering that.  

There were some excellent responses by some very experienced homeschool moms given to encourage and reassure that mom:

Janet said: I know what you mean! By definition, half of all children will fall in the "average" range, and while giving them a superior education at home might improve their performance over what they would have achieved in a public school, you cannot change their basic strengths and weaknesses. "Average" often just comes from measurements of their abilities on a very narrow set of skills, like memorizing facts and performing on tests, but ignores completely whether a child is loving, kind, compassionate, and caring.

Teri said: Reminds me of the Garrison Keillor monologue where he talks about Lake Wobegon, where all the women are strong, all the men are good looking, and all the children are above average. I believe that every child is gifted in their own way. Some of them, their gift is great faith or great compassion. Sometimes those gifts aren't as valued as they should be. No, there's nothing wrong with being average, depending on what your definition of average is. I wouldn't use the world as a standard, but other than that, no problem at all.
I just saw an article about how C students often excel over A students because they have to work harder and think outside the box. That frequently makes them more successful. (This was in reference to adults in business.)

The verdict: average is OK, but no one is completely average, just as no one is completely excellent.

When we start comparing our children to other children and ourselves to other parents, we tend to lose our focus.  Our children are 'fearfully and wonderfully made".  Like snowflakes, no two are alike.  The God-given gifts, talents, and abilities of my children are different from each other, different from my neighbors’ children and different from your children.  Nurture their strengths and encourage improvement in their weaknesses; rejoice in who they are and who they will become.

In today’s world, if we teach our children to be diligent and work to their full potential, they will be above average because those traits are becoming rare.

As always, I welcome comments and questions.  Join the conversation.

This post was shared at Cornerstone Confessions
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