Avoid the temptation to judge your child’s brain

Image by Yahiliz-blog
I get calls occasionally from public school parents who want to use Brave Writer to beef up their kids’ skill set in writing using BW as an extra-curricular tool. We’re good with that! We’ve had loads of public schooled kids in our programs.

One distinct feature of these calls is that the parents are highly aware of their children’s standardized test scores, IQ numbers, and grades. The system continually assesses students and gives parents sets of numbers to tell them whether or not to be proud of their kids, or desperately worried about them. All this numerical analysis is so unhelpful to the parent-child relationship!

Whether a child scores well or poorly tells us very little about the human being living in the skin of your precious child. Spelling scores tell you nothing about the child’s mind life. Computers can be programmed to correct spellings—they can’t be programmed to tell stories worth reading.

A child’s IQ should never be known by the child (and it if were up to me, by the parent either). Once you label a child’s mind as smart or average or “good enough,” you subtly shift your expectations (even if you try not to!). You will be temped to think that your child either should be performing at a much higher capacity (according to some arbitrary standard of what “educated” means) or that that child should be steered away from rigorous academics due to limited intelligence.

Both of these positions are absurd! Human beings are more than the sum of scores and school practices. Intelligence resides in social skills, empathy, artistic promise, and athletic ability as surely as it does in nailing the reading comprehension portion of a pressurized, fake, standardized test with Scantron bubbles.

(An aside: homeschool kids routinely perform less well than expected on reading comprehension tests, to the mystification of their parents who know that their kids read more widely and deeply than most of their schooled peers. There’s a reason for this. Reading comprehension tests have nearly nothing to do with pondering themes deeply, seeing connections to broader concerns, or extrapolating powerful lessons from the story itself. Reading comprehension tests concern themselves with retaining picky details under pressure. Triple UGH! Useless!)

The best education you can give your child is one where you value your child’s natural strengths as they make themselves known to you. You can’t know them through tests. You already know them through life—you KNOW your children! You are home with them all the time. You know! Honor and love the socks off those rascals!

When you see a child show generosity, say so!

When your kid scores four times in one soccer match, that’s the time you say, “You have incredible athletic skills.”

When your son brokers peace among fighting factions of siblings, you thank him for being a peace-maker.

When your daughter creates a system that streamlines where homeschool tools and books go so everyone can find them easily, you recognize her superbly organized mind!

If you are worried (a child is “behind” in math, for instance), do not test! You know! Get help. Do not limit your child’s chance of success by pre-determining that that child is not good at math or better work really hard or she’ll never make it to college.

Be positive, believe more in your child’s mind than the test-makers, and add brownies. Make a plan, stick to the plan. You are not behind. Your child is not “dumb” or “damaged.” Your child is your child with a set of experiences and aptitudes. Your job is to nourish and nurture them.

Every brain has a genius. Pay attention to your child’s particular bents and you’ll find it. Stop letting school and testing tell you who your child is.


P.S. I don’t get all “capital letter-y” very often, but this morning, I just had to.

Cross-posted on facebook. Water writing image by Brave Writer mom, Yahiliz.

One Response to “Avoid the temptation to judge your child’s brain”

  1. Joyfulmomof6 says:

    AMEN! 🙂