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The myth and legend says that slow and steady wins the race, yet in recent years the world around us has been speeding up. Faster cars, faster trains, faster planes, faster internet, faster food, faster learning and the list goes on.

There’s also another area where we have gone faster.. the speed at which children are growing up.

They are encouraged to read and write earlier, be engaged in an organised sport, learn an instrument earlier. Whilst all of these are desirable in the long-term, does structured learning too early in an effort to develop a child’s skills, set them up for winning in the long-term game of life?

Peter Gray Ph.D advocates early academic training produces long-term harm.  He shares the following research: “In the 1970s, the German government sponsored a large-scale comparison in which the graduates of 50 play-based kindergartens were compared, over time, with the graduates of 50 academic direct-instruction-based kindergartens. Despite the initial academic gains of direct instruction, by grade four the children from the direct-instruction kindergartens performed significantly worse than those from the play-based kindergartens on every measure that was used.”

So for us as parents, how much do we need to see external achievements to see if our child is on track? Are we able to trust that a child will learn when left to play and discover at their own pace?

“It does not really matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop” -Confucius

Yesterday, a young mother and child were climbing up the hill of the street I live on. It’s quite a steep hill and this child around age two, was approximately 50 metres behind his carer/mum. As I passed him, he was playing with a stick in his hand and twirling around, then taking a few steps forward and then stopping and doing the same again. He was moving forward and looked like he was enjoying the journey along the way. As I passed his carer/mum she smiled and said, “I wish he would speed up, he’s taking ages.”

I have no context of this scenario, they may have been in a rush as they had somewhere to be.

That’s not really the point. The point is, in general, do we really need to speed up?

Maybe it’s time to re-evaluate the race? Whose competing in the race? And does there need to be a race at all?

Would love to hear your thoughts?