I’ve been filling out applications for preschools for my oldest son and something about the whole process has been bothering me. Our top choice school requires that each family submit three examples of artwork created entirely independently by our child. I cringed just now when I used the phrase “top choice” when referring to preschools, but this is the world we live in. I’m slowly adjusting.
I’ve been struggling to put my finger on exactly what it is about this application procedure that has me so disgusted. Sure, I hate the idea that, at three years old, he is already being evaluated by a portfolio of art work that we will submit on his behalf. I would abhor the process even if my child was gifted in art. As it turns out, he is most definitely not.
When visiting friends with artistic children I am often greeted by dozens of lovingly displayed paintings and drawings. Their two year old beams proudly as she narrates the story behind each one. I pretend to listen interestedly as I glance down at my three year old who is picking the wrapper off the crayons and then biting off the tips. The technicolor display in the toilet tomorrow will be the closest thing he does to an art project any time soon. Perhaps I should take a picture and send it in with his preschool application.
So he isn’t an artist. So what? Why should he be judged entirely based on his ability to draw? I object to the idea that anyone can learn about a child based on a skill in which he has no interest. His refusal to draw anything other than black circles, over and over, on a blank page is not a sign of murderous rage or deep depression (I hope). It’s boredom. He puts pen to paper as quickly as possible so I will stop hounding him and he can move on to something he actually wants to do. Like poop.
I propose that preschools should be affording equal weight to some of the more under valued skills that young children might display. There are many other extremely useful skills that are disgracefully overlooked by the elite preschools.
Five toddler skills that are routinely overlooked by preschool selection committees:
1. The ability to recognize any Thomas and Friends character by nothing other than it’s face- I can’t tell you the number of times I am looking for a particular train, but find that I am unable to differentiate between them without taking the time to turn the over and read the name off the bottom of the toy. Think of the countless seconds I could have saved had I been encouraged to cultivate those particular skills as a young child. I can’t remember the last time I drew a picture, but I pick up those darn trains every day.
2. The ability to delay urination for up to 8 hours during the day- This is a skill that should clearly be valued by large corporations looking to streamline their production. Who needs a bathroom break during the working day? Not some children. Surely we should be fast-tracking them down the road to becoming tomorrows CEO, and of course, that begins with an elite education.
3. The ability to hear the rocking of a recliner, the steeping of a tea bag, or the pouring of a glass of wine from anywhere in the house while they are asleep- This is a borderline super power that some children possess that should clearly be recognized. These children are the future spies of the world. They sleep with one ear open, and are prepared to spring into action at the slightest indication of relaxation or fun happening anywhere in the house. Surely we want to start encouraging them from a very young age to use their powers for good rather than evil.
4. The ability to ignore anything they don’t want to hear- Obviously, these toddlers will make fine politicians in the future, assuming that their educational records aren’t marred by their failure to attend a top preschool institution. They may be challenging to educate, but surely, we want to encourage our next generation of law makers and diplomats to share and play well with others. Isn’t that the point of preschool?
5. The ability to cry on command and then immediately stop once achieving the desired result- Manipulation is a much maligned and under-appreciated skill common amongst the most successful adults. Children who have honed this specialized skill at such a young age will quickly climb social and professional ladders. Many will enjoy careers in entertainment, politics, or both. Combined with toddler skill #4 they would be an unstoppable force to be reckoned with. They will have assistants to eat crayons for them.
Clearly preschools are failing to accurately measure our children’s potential by relying exclusively on artistic talent as an admissions criteria. I fully intend to incite a preschool revolution.
Who’s with me? What highly practical skills would you like to see included in the preschool admission process? Perhaps we can start a petition.
One thing’s for sure. Whichever preschool does admit my son, they will be delighted to have me around providing them with such insightful and helpful suggestions.