Tuesday, September 08, 2015

The skill of performance

My 5-year-old starts "real" kindergarten later this week. Long-time blog readers know that our district is perfectly fine with letting you hold back your child for a year, but his late September birthday means getting around the Sept 1 cut-off involves jumping through a lot of hoops. We chose not to push it. He's a pretty relaxed kid, and indeed, we have friends who just made the cut-off who've decided to repeat kindergarten, partly because so many kids are red-shirted. If you turn 5 in late August, you are literally a year and a half younger than many kids in the class.

He did a full-day kindergarten program at his pre-school last year and is now in "real" kindergarten for half day. The other half he'll attend a kindergarten enrichment program. I think it will be a good fit. He's been on the cusp of reading for a long time. I'm pretty sure he can do it, but doesn't want to. I'm hoping the peer pressure will push that over the edge.

But one thing I was interested to see he's developed recently is some fairly serious skills at performing under pressure. Both my boys tried out for swim teams this summer. The 8-year-old's is a real team, but the 5-year-old's development team try-out was no less nerve-wracking, at least for me. What I didn't realize going in is that it's not just about whether you can swim -- that at least is fairly straightforward (he can do a passable crawl and backstroke). What the coaches were looking for is whether your kid, as a 5-year-old, can leave you, take instruction from a coach he just met, and jump into the pool in front of everyone and do what he's told.

I watched as my 5-year-old calmly listened for his name, went to the edge of the pool, and jumped in when the coach said to jump. Then he swam just as he'd learned in front of everyone. No nerves. He told me afterward he felt very confident about the whole thing. "Of course I can swim, Mommy!"

In life, I think this ability to perform under pressure is an important skill. I'm doing a lot of public speaking these days, which involves similar thinking. You need to be able to get up in front of any crew and talk in a relaxed, engaging manner. It is not in any way natural for me, but if my 5-year-old is already able to just roll with it, he'll do fine.

No comments: