The Secret to Helping Your Average Child Succeed

Let’s face it: Your children are not likely to be above average. Unlike the people of Lake Wobegon, our kids follow a standard bell curve and that means most children will fall into the “average” category. Not brilliant. Not stupid. Just normal kids.

While we like to think that our offspring will, of course, be geniuses, some might be but most won’t. Not being a genius, however, doesn’t mean your child can’t succeed. After all, take a look around you–most likely you and your coworkers fall somewhere in the middle 60 percent of the bell curve as well. (Yes, intelligence has a huge hereditary component, so if you are above average you child has a higher chance of being that way too, but don’t bet your life on it.) So, how best to help your child succeed?

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7 thoughts on “The Secret to Helping Your Average Child Succeed

  1. I wish my kids’ day care would do this! They group strictly by age and move kids to a new room only when they reach the “transition age” – whatever that is. Meanwhile, my kid reaches the point where he’s mastered the skills in his room, then gets bored, and acts up because he resents that the other kids get attention that he doesn’t get (because he doesn’t need extra help). Either that or he fakes not knowing things so that he can get “help” from the teacher. It drives me nuts. He’s THREE! No one in charge can explain why having him spend the day with four year olds, actually learning new things is a bad idea.

    1. A wonderful child care provider in Dallas groups its preschoolers in what are called “family groups,” consisting of children in varying age levels, just like siblings in a family. The younger children learn from the examples set by the older ones, and the older children learn how to be role models and to be helpful, patient and nurturing to the younger ones.

  2. I’m skeptical about grouping children strictly by ability. Ability as determined by whom? We all know — or know of — geniuses who were late-bloomers or underachievers (or were regarded as such) in their youth. Woe be unto the unfortunate child who is — wrongfully — labeled as below average in ability early in life. They would be permanently placed in a slower educational track that would — ultimately — result in their actually being “below average” by the time they graduated, assuming they managed to stick it out that long, victims of the “bigotry of low expectations.” If you want to help your so-called “average” child to succeed, encourage her or his natural curiosity, desire to explore and love of learning. Teach her or him that you cannot succeed unless you’re willing and able to experience failure, pick yourself back up and try again and continue on until your obtained the optimal result.

  3. 1. Read to your kids, starting at week 1, and, as long as they will accept it hold them, cuddle them, touch them, be animated with them while you are reading.

    2. grannybunny: I think the idea is to have good teachers at all levels, but to use a readiness / success model. That is, if one 12-year-old excels at math, let her / him go as fast and as far they want, but for another 12-y-o who just doesn’t get math stick with the basics for as long as it takes (don’t promote based on age). Thus the same kid might be in an advanced math program bordering on the college level, while at the same time attending a reading class, say, at a level two or three years lower than the “normal” level for his / her age. The idea is not to label kids, but to let them excel (or not) at their own pace, based on their interest and readiness, so that one kid might be a good reader by age 7, while another kid might just start reading at age 7.

  4. I can totally relate to Jill’s experience with her 3yr old.. if hindsight were 20 20 I would have been better prepared for what was to become of my youngest daughter soon to be 27 on Feb 7…I can remember when she was in pre-k she was always ahead in class learning skills no matter the material. When graduation time came around her teacher contacted me and set up a meeting. She expressed concern that my daughter isolated alot from the other kids and felt she should stay another year in pre-k before moving up to improve her social skills…My family and I thought that was totally unnecessary and that she would grow out of it…She was much like myself at a stage in my childhood, very smart but also very shy…whenever you would go to pick her up from school she be alone separate from the group and content with whatever toy, activity etc all by her lonesome..well she never grew out of it and never really developed social skills and never made friends throughout. Above average, top of her class throughout as well…

    1. I’m really dubious about holding back for social reasons. Autistic adults talk about this a lot where teachers wanted to hold them back in their areas of interest for social reasons. Which still doesn’t do anything. I wasn’t long on social skills as a child but really wouldn’t have wanted things dumbed down. Kids are often terrible to each other. On the good side I am now a functional introverted adult.

  5. My average kid is likely to go farther than my super intelligent kid, because she Which is exhausting to parents (!) but will serve her well if she can focus it. Very high intelligence doesn’t necessarily come with executive function.

    In different years of school I’ve now seen different homework expectations from the teachers on homework. And I really think for elementary kids the entire point of homework is sucking it up and doing it. Getting a child to suck it up is probably better for the long run. And there’s alcohol for the parents.

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