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« Time is a Homeschooler's Best Friend | Main | Making It Work, Not Child-Led »

October 21, 2007



When adults decide ahead of time what children can and can't learn, they automatically set limitations. I've been told so many times "preschoolers can't learn that!" and "it's too complex!", "they don't have the attention span!", etc. When there are no limitations, the children show us what they can do.


It's amazing what kids can and do learn when we don't impose a box on them. He has his entire life to learn how to fill in a worksheet. But how many adults can say they've had the lessons he has had?


I find it quite interesting what our society says is appropriate to learn and when. I recently overheard a child at the playground tell my child, "You can't swing like that!" My child quickly and with full conviction clearly stated, "I can ride sideways and rightways!" When we allow our lives to be lived outside the box, we discover OUR 'rightways (or sideways!)'

Matthew K. Tabor

Whenever I encounter the "you can't teach a _____ that!" mentality, I usually just ignore it until after I've finished. Then I say something like, "Too late, already did."


I loved this...my four year old is very small "for her age" and whenever we go to a park is always being followed around by an older child, who, well-meaningly, is looking our for the "baby". She has freaked out quite a few with her ability to scale the monkey bars and/or converse with ease about topics not usually of interest to a four-year old. It is always great to see people stop and rethink their expectations.

Great post!!


It's a language-mindset thing too:
"can't" as in "not able to" vs. "can't" as in "not supposed to".
If you consider that, at least half of the "can't"s in the world go away ;-)


Yep. Marvelous adventure in equal-opportunity confusion. I like it!

Do you have a link for the Japanese podcast? We're currently in the middle of a little Japanese obsession.


When someone says "You can't..." I believe they are encouraging that self fulfilling prophesy. Maybe that is why so many kids think they can't do things by the time they get into high school. This was a great article and I want to do more research on it myself!

Crimson Wife

Just about any academic topic can be introduced to a child in a developmentally-appropriate way. As a society, we have a terrible tendency to underestimate young children's capabilities. Now that doesn't mean following the Glenn Doman flashcard drill system but certainly kids are smarter than we often give them credit for!


Four year olds and even infants can learn anything! My four year old reads and writes and does math and all sorts of things a lot of six-eight year olds can't do. The only thing I have done was to give him a very nurturing environment and a lot of attention when he needed to "know" something. We will not unschool but our homeschool is NOT going to be about worksheets and workbooks for everything and what everyone else thinks a kid my age should be learning!

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