In this competitive culture that we now live in, where even preschool seems to be a race, it has been timely for me to re-read an article on Huffpost today. The article, originally from Magical Childhood, offered a list of everything a 4 year old should know – and it gladdened my heart.

For while my children are all grown up, my grandchildren have a special place in my heart and their foibles and differences are something I celebrate. The list of what a 4 year old should know is not a prescription for immediate success against others, but rather a formula to develop with others.

It lists the importance of being loved and loving; being funny, smart and silly; the child knowing what he likes or doesn’t like (dressing up, playing in the mud, being read to, barking dogs, sitting still, vegetables); being brave and stubborn and kind; the ability to get the message across when he’s sad or happy or angry; and the child’s belief in him/herself.

It further lists what parents need to know about their child: that they all learn at their own pace; that the single biggest predictor of high academic achievement is reading to children, and lots of it; that the happiest child is not defined by being the most academically successful; the importance of being surrounded by books, nature, art supplies and the freedom to explore them; and that our children need more of us – their parents.

It is not my intention to ignore learning issues in children, merely to say to our families that children learn and grow at a different pace. Some children will need intervention to support their learning. At Columba Cottage, we provide a Summative Assessment twice yearly to our parents which aids in early identification, but, as the author of this article says, “Childhood shouldn’t be a race.” You can’t ‘lose’ at being 4.

Rather than striving for this imaginary finish line, let’s champion fun and take pressure out of the running.

I encourage you to read the article here.

Update as of 19 June 2017

About the author: All round go-getter, Susanna Christie, is the Executive Director of Columba Cottage Early Learning Centre, where she leads a passionate team of 50 staff who love what they do, caring for children ranging in age from 6 weeks to 6 years. With a background in teaching from pre-school through to university, Susanna is passionate about all aspects of child development and wellbeing. Her qualifications include a Masters in Education, Bachelor of Teaching and a Graduate Diploma in Educational Studies. Susanna’s aim is to ensure that Columba Cottage remains the best Early Learning Centre on the Mid North Coast.