The New York Times has an important article today that is must reading for all parents concerned about their young children’s behavioral problems.
Bad Behavior Does Not Doom Pupils, Studies Say –by Benedict Carey
“Educators and psychologists have long feared that children entering school with behavior problems were doomed to fall behind in the upper grades. But two new studies suggest that those fears are exaggerated.
One concluded that kindergartners who are identified as troubled do as well academically as their peers in elementary school. The other found that children with attention deficit disorders suffer primarily from a delay in brain development, not from a deficit or flaw.
Experts say the findings of the two studies, being published today in separate journals, could change the way scientists, teachers and parents understand and manage children who are disruptive or emotionally withdrawn in the early years of school. The studies might even prompt a reassessment of the possible causes of disruptive behavior in some children.
“I think these may become landmark findings, forcing us to ask whether these acting-out kinds of problems are secondary to the inappropriate maturity expectations that some educators place on young children as soon as they enter classrooms,” said Sharon Landesman Ramey, director of the Georgetown University Center on Health and Education, who was not connected with either study. “
My comments: Parts of the article annoyed me. The experts seemed perfectly comfortable with kids’ taking stimulants for ADHD until their development catches up with prevailing educational norms. They do concede that most kids grow out of ADHD. Why is American society so comfortable with drugging kids rather than changing schools so they can accommodate kids with different learning styles and different rates of cognitive development?
My two older children went to an excellent public school near the World Trade Center, run by a very gifted principal, Blossom Gelertner. Blossom felt that teachers and parents should not be concerned about boys who were slow to read until the boys were 8. My daughter teaches first grade in Boston; teachers now worry about kids who can’t read when they enter first grade. I have always been an excellent reader, but I only learned my letters in first grade. By the end of the year, I was reading at a sixth grade level. Experienced parents have learned that readiness is all when it comes to crawling, walking, talking, toilet training, weaning, the move to a regular bed, etc. What have so many educators forgotten that lesson?