The New York Times News Service ran an article which cites research from two major studies debunking the notion that “children entering school with behavior problems were doomed to fall behind in the upper grades.” You can read the article in full here. Whether you agree or disagree, I think it is instructive to discover the latest thinking and research, considering its implications for life in the home and ministry in our faith communities.
Notably, Sharon Landesman Ramey, director of the Georgetown University Center on Health and Education is quoted in the article as saying, “I think these may become landmark findings, forcing us to ask whether these acting-out kinds of problems are secondary to the inappropriate maturity expectations that some educators place on young children as soon as they enter classrooms” (emphasis in bold mine). Although she is not connected to either of these studies, her observation is salient to the issues presented.
It raises the question: In the church and in our homes, are our expectations of children, especially those with various incarnations of behavioral issues and medical issues, realistic for their levels of maturity? Or are we contributing to and even creating the problems they experience by virtue of unrealistic and inappropriate maturity expectations? If our expectations are inappropriate, what course corrections need to be made immediately? What adjustments are just as important, but need to be made gradually? What training is required for parents and teachers and for ourselves as leaders of children’s and family ministries?