Can Daydreaming Make Kids Smarter?

Hi Folks! This missive comes to us from Del Shannon, a civil engineer who designs and constructs (and sometimes even deconstucts) dams around the world. When not damming, he has written award-winning essays and children’s stories. His first children’s book was the serialized novella The Map, published in several newspapers. Captain Disaster  is his second, a novel. Del lives with his family in Colorado and always seems to be daydreaming of Captain Disaster (which you can order here!). – L

MINDS WANDER AND INTELLECT GROWS by Del Shannon

In my biased and yet still humble opinion, I, along with my trusty sidekick Marty, saved the world no less than 472 times. From the first signs of trouble when we were eight, until I moved with my family to Oregon three years later, it was obvious to me and Marty that our home of Ellensburg, WA had somehow attracted the highest density of nefarious villains and paranormal beings in the world.

In our first week as a team, Marty and I broke up a Russian spy ring on Spokane Avenue, vanquished a coven of vampires that lived behind the screen at the drive-in movie, and, through special and ultra-top secret permission from the Justice League of America, used the amalgamated superpowers of Superman, Batman, Flash, Green Lantern, Aquaman, Hawkman, and the Atom to kill a gelatinous blob that lived in the irrigation ditch culvert that crossed Manitoba Avenue just north of the hospital.

While our antics exasperated our parents, not to mention the “Russian spies” that lived a few houses down the street, our heroics were never questioned because in everyone’s eyes we were doing exactly what two boys should be doing when faced with the deliciousness of three completely unencumbered summer months. We fell into our imaginary lives as easily as breathing.

Marty and I had no idea that our adventures were actually making us smarter. It may be a surprise to you as well, and yet recent research is pointing to just this as a natural outcome of daydreaming and possessing a wandering imagination.

Boosting Your Kid’s RAM 

A March 2012 study by Daniel Levinson and Richard Davidson published in the online journal Psychological Science, found a direct correlation between the amount of daydreaming a person does and their working memory capacity. In general terms, the higher an individual’s working memory capacity, the higher their reading comprehension, IQ score and other measures of intelligence. A simple analogy is the amount of random access memory (RAM) a computer has available, with the more RAM inside a computer translating to its increased efficiency and speed.

But it’s not all about intelligence, at least as defined above. Daydreaming also allows for different regions of the mind to subconsciously collaborate when looking at a problem. In a 2009 Psychology Today article about the benefits of daydreaming, Columbia University cognitive psychologist Malia Fox Mason reinforced this idea. “By allowing your mind the freedom to roam, the chances that you’re going to have an insight are much higher. It’s likely that you are going to recombine pieces of information in a novel way.”

Over-cram a Kid’s Day &  Stifle the Brain

What does all this research suggest? As a semi-retired superhero my own thoughts point in one simple direction. Collectively we’d best help our children by reopening the freedoms we have taken from them in the last 30 years because we are, quite literally, constraining their intelligence. From over-scheduling in the name of cramming as much knowledge as possible into their heads, to stifling their daydreaming and imagination by labeling it unproductive, our children aren’t being allowed the freedom to fully develop their intellectual abilities.

Providing our kids the time and freedom to daydream, explore and imagine on their own has been unnecessarily, and some would argue tragically, constrained. Instead of scolding children for staring off into the distance, seemingly in a daze, we actually should be encouraging them to do more of this…preferably while wearing a cape! – Del

The Captain himself!

56 Responses to Can Daydreaming Make Kids Smarter?

  1. Captain America April 18, 2013 at 10:51 am #

    This is great and very true. I’ve lately been questioning all the homework that little kids have to do. . . and I cannot recall hauling stuff home in third grade. Instead, we played in the backyard, etc., after school.

  2. MHM April 18, 2013 at 11:09 am #

    Also Doodling is great for learning too. Here’s a Ted talk about it http://www.ted.com/talks/sunni_brown.html

  3. Sharon April 18, 2013 at 11:41 am #

    After the standardized testing in fifth grade the kids were told to change into sneakers. They were told to go outside and play kickball. I was so proud that they rewarded the kids (10 and 11 years old) with a kid reward. It was so much better than congratulations here is your next assignment.

  4. Alaina April 18, 2013 at 11:45 am #

    My school district had rules preventing most homework before third grade. The most we did were things like ‘bring in ten pretty fall leaves’ before then. And third grade we wrote our first reports and had to memorize things for the first time, so it was obvious what the homework was for then (drilled it into our little skulls).

    But even so, I clearly recall that– when I was either eight or nine– a friend and I became certain that one neighbor was a witch, and spent the entire summer trying to keep her from ‘poisoning’ anyone else with her garden. She still got to give out her vegetables, but there may have been a tomato missing from each basket, due to our ‘safety checks’ after.

  5. Christine Hancock April 18, 2013 at 11:52 am #

    So all that daydreaming I did as a child actually was of worth. Someone should have let my third grade teacher know this before she attempted to label me socially retarded (she tried, but my mother managed to veto this).

    Maybe I should call the quiet study time that’s part of homeschool, daydream time…

    http://hancockfamily29.blogspot.com/2013/04/a-home-school-non-event.html

  6. pentamom April 18, 2013 at 12:59 pm #

    No wonder I’m such a genius! I can’t keep my mind on anything!

    jk

  7. Heather @ Buried in Books April 18, 2013 at 1:43 pm #

    I’ve got a 13 yr old that tells me his missions, plants his guns (Nerf) out in the bushes and around the house and then, no matter what I’m doing, I play hostage while he rescues me. Very little is required on my part other than saying “Help” and “Thank you”. But Del, should I be worried that he’s a Russian on these missions? In our day they were the bad guys. Guess the bad guys have a new face these days, anyone! I encourage him though. It gets him off the computer. And he’s the writer of my two kids. So I totally agree….daydream, imagine, create, play!

  8. lollipoplover April 18, 2013 at 1:48 pm #

    When I was in 2nd grade and facinated with Willy Wonka I had great daydreams of candy worlds and chocolate rivers with me being the one at the end to ride the glass elevator. Years ago I looked through an old school scrapbook and saw I used the middle name “Tuity Fruity” on assignments. Sometimes my teacher circled it and put a question mark next to it.

    Yes, like pentamom, I must also be a genius. I daydream all the livelong day….

  9. Victoria Simmons April 18, 2013 at 1:49 pm #

    This piece is especially interesting to me because I teach part-time in an after-school enrichment program that caters to kids whose every waking moment is scheduled. When I went over “Fern Hill” with my Saturday morning class, all eight kids said they had never in their lives had a moment of just marveling at the beauty of a fresh summer morning with nothing to do (or the equivalent), while such memories are for me (as apparently for Dylan Thomas) among the most treasured moments of childhood. As a friend said, at least I gave them a vicarious taste of the experience through Thomas’s great poem, but getting them to identify with the sense of magically exalted freedom was like trying to describe colors to the blind.

  10. Victoria Simmons April 18, 2013 at 1:52 pm #

    The kids, whose parents are mostly immigrants, say their parents tell them they can daydream and play once they’re grown up and employed.

  11. Del Shannon April 18, 2013 at 2:35 pm #

    Have LOVED everyone’s comments so far! Keep ’em coming! To answer Heather’s specific question, I LOVED being the bad guy when Marty and I would play in the summers (we took turns playing different characters), so I don’t think there’s anything to worry about. The most important thing to us was becoming whatever character we imagined ourselves to be and then staying in character as long as we could. Just don’t become a victim of ‘Stockholm Syndrome’ while you’re being held hostage. Or maybe it’s too late. :)

  12. Papilio April 18, 2013 at 3:13 pm #

    Del Shannon – your name made me wah-wah-wah-wah-wonder whether you’re related to the 60’s singer?

    I can’t recall any big fantasy worlds that I (we) had, despite a lot of free play outside and using Lego etc etc, with my younger brother. I AM very easily distracted though… 😛

  13. Del Shannon April 18, 2013 at 3:20 pm #

    @Papilio. No relation. I’m named after my grandfather. The Del Shannon you’re thinking of was born as Charles Westover and created the stage name of ‘Del Shannon’ because it sounded cool. I agree.

  14. hineata April 18, 2013 at 3:38 pm #

    Who stops daydreaming? Hubby just read out a news piece about three men from the UAE being
    ‘removed’ from a cultural festival and deported back to Abu Dhabi for being ‘too handsome’. And no pictures attached!

    I am going to be spending at least part of my time at an utterly mindnumbing ‘symposium’ imagining their faces, LOL!

  15. BL April 18, 2013 at 4:16 pm #

    What did you just say?

    I was thinking about something else.

  16. Stephanie April 18, 2013 at 5:43 pm #

    This is why I’ve always loved it when my children’s teachers have commented on how imaginative they are. One called my oldest the most imaginative she had ever had to deal with. Her second grade teacher, unfortunately, didn’t seem to think it was a good thing, and treated my daughter as a problem. Glad that hasn’t been an issue since.

  17. AW13 April 18, 2013 at 6:10 pm #

    I was raised Catholic and went to Catholic school, which means two masses a week. I used to daydream about saving the church from ninjas (or terrorists, after I saw the movie Toy Soldiers, I think it was called). It seems like no matter which church it was, there were always places we weren’t allowed to go. Naturally, my saving the church frequently necessitated my traversing the restricted areas. It also usually required climbing the altar and/or swinging from lights. (I thought I was alone in this before talking to two of my Catholic school friends who admitted that they did this, too!)

  18. Dulcie April 18, 2013 at 8:33 pm #

    My daughter used to daydream in class all the time. As long as her school work was finished, her teacher would let her dream, she said, “I don’t know what’s going on in her head, but she may be curing cancer in there and I wouldn’t want to stand in her way.” We need more teachers like that.

    I lived in the country when I was a kid and wasn’t the outdoorsy type, so I had no friends to playact with. My daydreaming took place in an old La-Z-Boy recliner in a darkened basement. If the light was on, my mom would know I was down there and find chores for me to do, hence, I sat in the dark and had great adventures that took place entirely inside my head.

  19. Emily April 18, 2013 at 11:33 pm #

    The sad thing about daydreaming, and free play, and everything that the “Free Range” movement is made of, is the fact that these things have been devalued over time, with the increase in supervised, structured activities that adults enroll their kids in, in the interests of “safety,” and “achievement above all else.” So, I think the best thing that adults can do, is to weave some of those things into the “structured” activities, so parents can feel good knowing that their kids are doing something “constructive,” but kids still get time to be kids. For example, last summer, when my pianist friend and I ran our music camp, yes, we taught kids about music, which was, of course, the overall purpose of the camp, but they had about an hour of “free play” time in the park every day after lunch, and a shorter break morning and afternoon, to draw, socialize, play games, build with blocks, or even run around the church gymnasium, play catch, shoot basketballs, and do more active things. As a result, they were able to focus more on music. Also, at the end of each day, we’d do a “closing circle” type of thing, where each person (kids and adults) would say their favourite and least-favourite thing that happened that day. Sometimes, the kids’ answers would have to do with something we did as a group that day, like “I liked playing the recorder,” but other times, it’d be something that we had no idea was even happening. For example, one day, one little girl said that her favourite part of the day was doing five flips in a row on the monkey bars at the park. If our day camp had been “all structured, all the time,” we wouldn’t have gotten to hear cool stories like that, and camp probably wouldn’t have ended with a veritable stampede of kids (and parents) wanting to sign up for the next summer.

  20. SKL April 18, 2013 at 11:50 pm #

    I used to daydream a lot and am supposedly smart, but I am not sure which way the cause-effect goes. I daydreamed when I was at school because there was so much review of stuff I already knew, my mind couldn’t take it. My brother, also smart, was even worse, to the point of getting in trouble all the time for being off task. His kid is even smarter, so I’m thinking this is genetic intelligence which feeds daydreaming because the mind needs something to do. My youngest daughter is very intelligent and she has always participated in more extracurriculars than the average kid. She has a very active imagination. My other kid, whose working memory is average at best, has never been one to make up stories and scenarios, even when she has plenty of time. Or should I say, she’s a late bloomer in that department. On the other hand, for this latter kid, the extracurriculars are the high points of her day. For that matter, if there’s one thing I’ve seen her being creative about, it’s movement, with her coached classes providing the base. So I would hesitate to put so much stock in avoiding scheduled activities.

    I do find this amusing because of what my “average” daughter is going through at school. She has problems with vision and auditory processing, so she is pretty bad about following along with the class at school. (She used to ask the teacher to slow down, but teacher wouldn’t, so she gave up trying.) This is being treated as a big behavior problem and I’ve heard more than one subtle suggestion to try meds (even though she is not at all hyperactive or disruptive). So I had her tested in order to get them off my back. Turns out she’s above average in almost every area of achievement. What’s she doing (besides her work) while the other kids are listening to the teacher? She’s wondering what everyone else is doing, contemplating mysteries of nature, and planning. She is one heck of a planner. I guess that is her version of daydreaming, but it’s very practical. I suppose it is more beneficial to her development than trying to focus on the teacher’s “mwa mwa mwa” 100% of the time.

    I guess I would say there is an association between creative, dreamy mental inventions and high intelligence, but I think they are both in-born to a large degree. Looking at my kids and many others I know, the smarter ones could come up with more fantasy in 5 minutes than the average ones would come up with in a whole day. It’s in the wiring IMO.

  21. Cynthia812 April 19, 2013 at 12:09 am #

    I agree that daydreaming is great, but the fact that we jumped straight to its effect on IQ made me think of this article: http://www.slate.com/blogs/how_babies_work/2013/04/10/parental_ethnotheories_and_how_parents_in_america_differ_from_parents_everywhere.html

  22. Donald April 19, 2013 at 12:13 am #

    I’m all for children using their imagination. That is unless it involves eating a pop tart into the shape of a gun.

  23. Donna April 19, 2013 at 2:44 am #

    Meh. I think day dreaming has far more to do with natural creativity than intelligence. I’m supposedly very smart and have never been a daydreamer. My daughter is supposedly very smart and shows no signs of daydreaming. We both tend much more to the logical side than fanciful.

    My mother, who has average intelligence, is an artist who has spent her whole life daydreaming. In fact, all her artist friends are big daydreamers and their intelligence varies from dumb as dirt to genius.

  24. Highwayman April 19, 2013 at 4:42 am #

    As one of the great daydreamers of the age….

    THANK-YOU!

    Now back to Santadel, my imaginary country at http://www.nationstates.net.

  25. Caleb April 19, 2013 at 6:19 am #

    Daydreaming is a two edged sword. I drove my poor teachers nuts, and school was a waste of their time and mine. I left school poorly prepared for life, but did manage to survive.

    In the 1950’s and 1960’s Psychiatrists would ask people about dreams, but tended to frown on dreaming, seeing it as withdrawal and escapism, (which it in fact is.) However when they tried to stop people from praying it had a very bad effect. In the end they decided people were better off praying. They insisted it was irrational, but conceded it had benefits.

    Even among artists you can see people become so intellectual about art they cut themselves off from the dreamy roots of poetry. When I took classes in poetry I met professors who who could name hundreds of poems and poets, but who were as withered and dry as chalk dust.

    Richard Louv talks of how we get cut off from the roots of what feeds our creativity, calling it “nature deficit disorder,” in his book “Last Child In The Woods.”

    At my Childcare we have kids play in the woods, and it is amazing to watch their imaginations. Their favorite toy? A stick. Imagination can make a stick be more things than you can shake a stick at.

    We have found a spot in the woods where a mother fox is raising her cubs, and the kids peer through the brush, watching the cubs play. I can see that even foxes play; why should human children stay indoors and do math when they are very small?

    Not that I should be praised for flunking math. I took day dreaming to an excess. In fact excessive dreaming is a bad habit of mine to this day. However the alternative is not the extreme opposite (to become dried up) but rather is a balanced life.

    My latest daydreaming is “Baby Foxes”

    http://sunriseswansong.wordpress.com/2013/04/18/baby-foxes/

  26. Eliza April 19, 2013 at 7:32 am #

    My daughter and her cousin would would win the Iraqi war. Her cousin was commander of the Australian Army and my daughter the commander of the American Army, and yes she did use that fake dodgy American accent. There was also an imaginary German army helping them. The war would usually end in a draw or everyone deciding they all need to be friends because everyone was hungry and needed to go home from the war to have lunch.

  27. CrazyCatLady April 20, 2013 at 10:35 am #

    The need for down time is a good portion of why we homeschool. The district that my daughter started at had homework in kinder. It was busy work – not related to what they were working on in class. The school really wanted to dictate what we could do on our own time at a very young age – a prescription for school burn out in my opinion.

    They also had the Accelerated Reader program – a program where the kids have to read certain books starting at a low level, and then pass tests in order to move on to more difficult books. A teacher actually told a parent that her son could ONLY read books at the level he was at – even if he was reading on his own time and books that did not come from the school library. The mother told her she was full of it, and her son would read what he wanted – even if it was advanced. He did continue to read his Harry Potter series and to foster his imagination.

  28. Papilio April 20, 2013 at 1:08 pm #

    “They also had the Accelerated Reader program – a program where the kids have to read certain books starting at a low level, and then pass tests in order to move on to more difficult books. A teacher actually told a parent that her son could ONLY read books at the level he was at – even if he was reading on his own time and books that did not come from the school library. ”

    How to discourage reading, step 1…

  29. Emily April 20, 2013 at 3:37 pm #

    @Papillo–The “Accelerated Reader” program reminds me of the scene in Harper Lee’s “To Kill A Mockingbird,” where Scout’s teacher tells her, on the first day of grade one, not to read on her own or with her father, because she wants the whole class to start at square one, and go through the state-mandated reading program, which Scout and Jem think is called the “Dewey Decimal System,” it’s really called something else, and they just have it mixed up. Anyway, Scout and Jem go home at lunch time that day, and Scout tells her father, Atticus, what the teacher said, and says that she doesn’t want to go back to school ever again. Atticus makes a deal with Scout that if she continues to go to school, and “play along” with the reading program while there, then she can still read on her own at home, and he’d read with her too.

  30. SKL April 20, 2013 at 4:20 pm #

    The Accelerated Reader program is the most free-range thing in my 6yos’ class, LOL. There are plenty of books to choose from and the levels they recommend – for my kids at least – are pretty broad in range. (At mid-year the range was 0.9-1.9 for Miss A, and much higher/broader for Miss E.) It’s not like they make everyone go through x books at level 1 regardless of their reading level. Though I will say they waited way too long before testing my youngest and letting her go for books on to the 3rd / 4th grade shelves. Also, while they did suggest we keep the kids within the “comfortable reading range,” they don’t say anything if my kid uses a higher book. The kids login and take the tests on their own anyway.

    Oddly, my elder, “average” kid tests better on the harder books. I can kind of see why. How do you demonstrate comprehension of a Dr. Seuss nonsense book, or what is essentially a “word book”?

    The reason I say this is relatively “free range” is that there is no other aspect of 1st grade that is differentiated. My two girls are doing the exact same work despite one being years ahead of the other ability-wise. The teacher requires all the kids to follow along as she goes over the lessons in front of the class. If (er, I mean when) one of my kids works at her own speed, I get complaints. Can you tell I can’t wait for June?

  31. CrazyCatLady April 20, 2013 at 5:49 pm #

    SKL, it sounds like you have a better school than the one my daughter went to! Well, at least library system. This school was very firm on the fact that you HAVE to pass the tests first. And did not account for the fact that the boy made progress over the summer. Nope, had to pass the test.

    I think that this firm belief in how things “HAD” to be done was part of the reason that my daughter’s teacher kept telling me in first grade “Don’t expect this every year.” She was a great teacher for my daughter …but understood that not all of the teachers at the school would work as hard for my child.

  32. CrazyCatLady April 20, 2013 at 5:52 pm #

    Papilio, my thoughts exactly. There is no way that such a program fosters a love of reading.

    I do use the website for it from time to time. I use it to determine what reading level of my kids are at so that I can buy slightly more challenging curriculum for them. But when we go to the library…. they get what they want for their free reading time. And the more books the better.

  33. SKL April 20, 2013 at 6:22 pm #

    CrazyCL, My kids are supposed to test on one AR book per day, or less if they are working on a solid chapter book. For my advanced reader, that still leaves her plenty of time to read many other books. She usually devours several books per day just for fun. My other kid would be happy to just read her AR books, but I do have her read something more challenging from time to time, and she is free to test on that, provided it’s on the overall AR list (which is available online).

  34. Donna April 20, 2013 at 7:31 pm #

    We don’t have AR but I agree that reading is the only thing differentiated in 1st grade. We’ve even tried to ask the teacher to challenge the bright kids and got “no, everyone has to do the same thing.” What sense does that make? If you have kids with different abilities, they need to learn different things. In my opinion, schooling in the US tanked when they got rid of tracking, lumped everyone into one class and started teaching to the middle and only the middle.

  35. SKL April 20, 2013 at 9:01 pm #

    When I was a kid, there was only one 1st grade in my school and yet we had different reading groups for different abilities. I hear of schools that differentiate math as well as reading. Hmm, maybe I should look into how the local public schools do it. Been thinking of moving my kids anyway (lots of negativity on Miss A in their current school). (Then again, maybe 2nd grade is different.) Sorry, just thinking out loud!

    But on a free-range note, it’s kinda sad the way some schools essentially penalize those who spend their free time reading to an advanced level. But then again, maybe we need to thank the same schools since all that boredom is generating daydreaming => high IQs. Thus contributing to their own problems. Ha ha.

  36. Emily April 20, 2013 at 9:15 pm #

    @SKL–When I was in grade one, we had “reading groups” as well, divided according to ability. Our teacher let us choose our own names for our groups, based on a “candy” theme, because she made up the groups right after Halloween, so candy was still on our brains. My group was called the Tootsie Rolls, and even at the age of six, I could tell that it was the highest group, because we were the only group reading short “chapter books,” whereas the other groups were reading from readers (not Dick and Jane, but the early-90’s equivalent of that), where the protagonists repeated themselves a lot throughout their various adventures.

  37. Emily April 20, 2013 at 9:16 pm #

    P.S., I forgot to mention, my grade one teacher allowed (and encouraged) me to read whatever I wanted outside of the “required” reading for school, and I did.

  38. Donna April 20, 2013 at 10:12 pm #

    SKL – We had 6 or 7 different 1st grades and kids were grouped according to ability and motivation. All the kids in my class had similar intellect. Now schools try to avoid that. Classes are engineered to be an equal mix in gender, race, age (within the year breakdown for that class) and intellect.

    My kid’s teacher, who is simply very regimented and unbending, is part of the problem. But I’m friends with the 2nd/3rd grade teacher who is not and she says that she is just handcuffed in many ways. Reading levels are really the only place they have freedom. She can’t give the smart 2nd grade kids 3rd grade work without the school moving them into 3rd grade (it is the same classroom and teacher). She does what she can to find enrichment activities for her bright kids but they HAVE to do the grade-level work even if beneath them.

  39. SKL April 20, 2013 at 10:33 pm #

    Donna – they don’t even have reading groups in my kids’ class. And worse. The publisher of the Language Arts curriculum (reading, grammar, spelling) makes three versions of the “practice book” at different skill levels, so that even if the kids are all using the same readers, they can differentiate seatwork. Nope. My kids’ class all have the same practice book (the one for average kids). I bought the other two (one for “approaching,” one for “beyond”) to use as supplemental material at home for Miss A, who needs more practice with following directions. Miss E saw the “beyond” book and said, “aw, this looks a lot more fun than the one we use at school!” It has more challenging work such as crosswords etc. She wanted to use it, but I’m saving it for the kid who needs it more. Miss E has no trouble keeping herself busy at home.

  40. SKL April 20, 2013 at 10:45 pm #

    I don’t remember reading a ton at age 6, though I was an early reader. I could be wrong, but I don’t think I read a book a day, let alone a pile of them. I do remember some books that I really loved, perhaps because I digested them at my own pace and maybe even re-read the parts that were extra fun. The difficulty level spanned a pretty wide range, from KG-level books to Little House in the Big Woods. Nobody interfered nor kept score because this was done in my free time at home.

    I know a lot of people hate the AR program because it makes free reading a chore. I actually like it, for both of my kids. For Miss E, it is just part of her free reading and it’s her only “official” opportunity to work at her ability level. For Miss A, it develops a habit of reading every day, which she (like many other kids) probably wouldn’t do on their own, at least not at age 6. She really enjoys the books. The girls review their AR books during the drive to school, and it’s nice to see them laughing and sharing with each other. (For those unfamiliar with AR, the books are regular kids’ books that you’d find in a library or bookstore. Kids read a book on their own and then take a brief computerized comprehension quiz for points. They do this all on their own once they learn how to log onto the computer.)

    What I really hate, though, is those “supplemental readers” that the textbook companies put out. They are written so poorly, with unnatural language that nobody would actually use. Thankfully my kids are not subjected to those very often.

  41. Donna April 20, 2013 at 11:29 pm #

    SKL – My daughter’s school doesn’t have different reading groups per se. They just have different level readers. I don’t like the testing the teacher does for the levels and think my kid is lower than she should be but at least everyone isn’t stuck reading the same book.

    Math bugs me more than reading. Her school has not moved beyond adding single digit numbers and Maya can add hundreds with carryovers and just learned to subtract with borrowing in about 30 seconds today. She doesn’t need daily worksheets where she adds 5+9.

    I didn’t learn to read until 1st grade so I wasn’t doing great reading at that age. But my daughter does read a lot at home. She reads both picture and chapter books. Some days she’ll read several picture books. Other times she’ll plow through an entire small chapter book. And then she’ll go weeks without reading anything. I think it depends on her boredom level. We do currently live in a place completely lacking in anything to do other than the pool or beach so the boredom level can be high some days. I wonder if I will see the same when we are back on the mainland where there are lots of things to do.

  42. SKL April 21, 2013 at 12:11 am #

    LOL, math is the one area where Miss E isn’t a solid A student (so far this year). She does math in her head, adding / subtracting 3 digits etc. (The class hasn’t started adding 2 digit numbers yet.) She has no patience for the pace of the class and since the workbook’s directions are not very intuitive (Singapore Math), she makes silly mistakes. It ticks her off royally. I assume that as she gets more mature, she will learn how to avoid this problem.

  43. hineata April 21, 2013 at 7:38 pm #

    @SKL and Donna, am not sure I am reading your comments correctly, but it is hard to imagine how the teacher manages to teach without grouping for ability in at least reading and math. Even when you do that you still get your outliers – we have one six year old we have to send to the ten year old class for math because he’s right out there in that area. The woolly subjects like social studies are OK for mixed ability groups, but otherwise, surely the kids go nuts?

  44. SKL April 21, 2013 at 8:55 pm #

    No, Hineata, for real. None of that is done in my kids’ school. At least, not in 1st grade. They all do the exact same work every day, all day in class (and for homework, other than free reading). My Miss E is the most advanced kid in her class in most areas, and there is no sending her to another class or giving her a different book or assignment. On the other end there are a handful of kids who get government-sponsored tutoring a couple days a week, but they still do the same work as the rest of the class. And the age range in the class is at least 1.5 years, as many kids are “redshirted” (enter school older than the guidelines suggest to give them a perceived advantage), while my kids started school early. I agree, it’s crazy.

  45. SKL April 21, 2013 at 9:05 pm #

    And Hineata, now you can imagine why there is so much alleged “ADD / ADHD” in the classroom. Because teachers just can’t imagine why every one of their 25 students isn’t riveted on her the entire time she’s going over the standard worksheet pages all freakin’ day. I had Miss A tested / observed for learning problems (this is the kid with vision and auditory processing problems). I received a written narrative saying that during and observation of a spelling lesson (her best subject), she followed along with the teacher for “only” 22 of 32 continuous minutes. (Remember, this is a 6yo.) Immediately thereafter the teacher switched to the whiteboard for another 15 minute lesson, of which my kid was attentive for only 7 minutes. The rest of the lecture time my kid was filling in her workbook pages. HOW TERRIBLE! Drug that kid! Ugh. How I wish I could homeschool.

  46. hineata April 21, 2013 at 9:20 pm #

    @SKL – Lord love a duck! I am so impressed that she managed 22 whole minutes. I would be hard pressed to do that as an adult. Fifteen minutes is a long time to sit and focus effectively at that age – if I have to do that with my kids I get them to go for a run or jump around the classroom before they settle to ‘book work’.

    I think you get used to your own system – I couldn’t imagine trying to work in tht sort of environment, not with kids that age. I would put myself to sleep trying to talk for that length of time, let alone the kids! How boring….

  47. hineata April 21, 2013 at 9:21 pm #

    ‘that’…

  48. SKL April 21, 2013 at 10:35 pm #

    Hineata, the teacher rated her as having clinically significant attention problems (in other words, get her to a doctor). I am glad to hear I’m not the only person who thinks 22 minutes is pretty darn good for a 6yo.

  49. Donna April 22, 2013 at 3:06 am #

    Hineata – My kid’s school has individual reading levels. So during reading, everyone is reading different books.

    Outside of that there is absolutely no differentiation of work. Everyone in the same grade does the exact same work. This is so even though there are 2 grades in each class. An advanced kindergartener cannot do the 1st grade work going on IN THE SAME CLASSROOM. And no kids are sent anywhere.

    And this school is taught solely in English and almost all the students are bilingual with English often not being the predominant language spoken in the home. This sometimes causes things to move a little slow for the few predominant English speakers in the class.

  50. Donna April 22, 2013 at 5:57 am #

    @SKL –

    Wouldn’t the correct analysis be your daughter’s attention compared to the rest of the class regardless of amount of time? If my daughter was only able to focus for half the lesson while everyone else in the class could focus for the whole, then I would think the problem is with my child’s attention span. If everyone is losing focus at the half, then the problem is with the teaching. Afterall, unless I am mistaken you are talking about the child who is not doing as well in school and not the one who can zone out after half a lesson and still get an A.

    I’m not saying that ADD is an issue and drugs are needed. But I’m not sure that I’d blow it off as the teacher’s problem either. Mostly because my brother had the exact same issue that started at the exact same grade. He’s not ADD either but he was noticably less mature than his peers and his school years were a constant battle until he finally dropped out. He’s a bright guy but the maturity level expected and exhibited by most of his peers was out of his reach.

  51. SKL April 22, 2013 at 9:18 am #

    Donna, as I mentioned previously, she’s been diagnosed with and is receiving therapy for problems that make it hard for her to follow along – auditory processing and vision problems being the key ones. She’s also over a year younger than some of the kids, thanks to redshirting. Early in the year, both she and her teacher told me that she’d repeatedly asked the teacher to slow down so she could follow along. Teacher said no, because only one other child in the class had this problem. I don’t see this as an attention problem but an unaccommodated auditory / vision processing problem. Frankly, many a kid would have given up trying by now.

    Teacher has also complained about my other kid not following along (which is because the material is far beneath her), but since that kid is nearly a 4.0 student, she gets away with it.

    There are also other kids in the class who are not doing so hot. I’m not observing, but I find it hard to believe that every other student is listening with rapt attention. And also, in 1st grade a teacher should know that kids have different learning styles. You can’t tell me that nearly all children learn best via lecture at age 6. I’m pretty sure studies would prove (or have proven) the opposite.

    I could go on about how the teacher told me my kid makes her sick, routinely takes away her recess to make her finish seatwork, has prevented her from eating lunch, and more, in case there was any doubt about whether this teacher has a problem. But that’s a whole other discussion.

  52. Donna April 22, 2013 at 1:45 pm #

    @SKL –

    Based on the full story, it does appear that the teacher and your child are a poor match. It seems that your child’s teacher doesn’t like your child.

    However, the youngest in the class argument is not compelling for me at all. I think we are too set on “my child is X so must be in X grade” and unwilling to deal with the fact that developmental differences make kids ready for school at different times. And it harms kids in both directions. My kid was held back due to age issues. Ultimately, I’m fine with it since I don’t see the rush to grow up but she definitely was ready for kindergarten a year earlier than she was allowed to attend. My brother was pushed forward into school and then struggled academically and socially because he was always a year or so behind in maturity until he finally dropped out and only gained enough confidence in himself to attend college (he got his GED years ago) at 29. And is a straight A student. No doubt that the evil redshirting would have been better for him.

    Personally I think schools and parents need to be more flexible with admittance dates and moving kids between classes than they are, especially at the lower elementary school level when development is so varied. We say all the time that kids mature at different speeds and then throw that out the window for school when we expect everyone to be ready on a set date because … well that’s when they are supposed to be ready.

  53. SKL April 22, 2013 at 2:33 pm #

    See, Donna, I’m saying it’s not a maturity issue. My kid is a perfect fit socially for the class she is in. She makes friends easily and is quite popular in the class. She doesn’t have problems with stamina or emotional outbursts. She calmly articulates what she needs and if she doesn’t get it, she sits quietly and deals. The fact that her limit for continuous listening was apparently 22 minutes at a given time is because of some documented physical issues that she has, NOT maturity. In KG last year, she was one of the model students. No concerns about maturity whatsoever. That said, if you’re gong to hold her to the standard of children who are supposed to be in 2nd grade, that makes no sense.

    Using the maturity card when a child has a documented physical problem only delays getting children the help they need. These problems don’t go away with age. They have to be addressed, and the sooner the better. I’m addressing them through therapy but she needs some time and patience in the mean time.

  54. SKL April 22, 2013 at 2:38 pm #

    And academically, per testing, my kid is ahead, not behind. (Meant to include that in my previous comment.)

    The usual benchmark nowadays is that kids should be placed where they are socially, which in my kid’s case is 1st grade. Even the teacher agrees with this from a social standpoint.

  55. SKL April 22, 2013 at 2:49 pm #

    A pet peeve of mine is that schools encourage redshirting and then target their teaching to an older set of kids. I don’t understand why they think it is OK to penalize younger kids who enter under the normal cutoff policies. What’s so terrible about teaching 1st grade at a level accessible to 6-year-olds? It worked fine when I was a kid.

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