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Is Cognitive Advancement Linked to Juvenile Deliquency?

Since Aristotle started school, it seems we have had more than our fair share of meetings with his teachers to address his misdemeanours at school. All in all, I think he’s been to the school’s office more times in his short experience of school than I have in all my schooling years. It’s a scary thought for a parent considering how many more years of school he has in store.

It was recently suggested to me that this is happening because Aristotle is too advanced for most of his peers at school which tends to isolate him. In turn, he expresses his frustrations through these minor transgressions. The solution that was suggested to me was to hold back his mental development and stop whatever activities I do with him outside of school. The belief is that once the other children catch up with him and he becomes “more like them”, these disciplinary issues should right themselves.

I have to say that I cringed when I heard that. The very idea of holding back a child’s development so that he can be “more like everyone else”? I was speechless. Would you tell a child to stop swimming so that the other children can catch up to him?

As much as I dislike dwelling on genetics and in-born talent (what we are is 50% nature and 50% nurture and I usually tend not to focus on the former because it seems pointless to waste my thoughts on that which I cannot change), it is evident that Aristotle’s talent is his acuity. By acuity I do not mean that he started talking early, or that he has always been very articulate for his age, or even that he reads well for his age. By some of these measures, I would say that Hercules is ahead of him, and yet, I do not feel that Hercules has the mental acuity of Aristotle. There is a certain quality to Aristotle’s mind that I cannot describe adequately and I know that to deny his development is to deny him the opportunity to hone that talent much as we would be denying the swimmer by asking him not to swim.

Besides, even if I stopped all his developmental activities, I do not believe that it would be the answer to his disciplinary problems at school. I will not go so far as to say that there is no link between the two but regardless of whether there is a link or not, the answer is definitely not holding a child back.

It reminds me of an argument I used to hear regarding early learning that goes something like, “Oh, if your child learns all this before school, won’t he be bored at school?” Why are we trying so hard to make our children fit into a preset mould, especially if it means compromising their development? That’s the worst reason I have ever heard for not wanting our children to do any special pre-school activities. Even the misconceived notion that teaching children math and reading and other subjects in infancy or toddlerhood is damaging is not as bad. At least this is a real perceived reason even if it misconceived.

Aristotle may be cognitively advanced, but emotionally, he is still a child of his physical age. Just because I was never in the school’s office as much doesn’t mean that I was a “normal” child and Aristotle “abnormal”. If the stories are true, it would appear that hubby spent a great deal of his childhood in mischief making. Perhaps Aristotle is simply more like his father in this regard and this is just something I’m going to have to learn to deal with. For what it’s worth, Aristotle has never had a repeat offense after we have “dealt with the issue”, he just comes up with new ones. Is it fair to say that we are making progress as far as disciplinary measures go? After all, if hubby became a law-abiding citizen, a good and kind husband, and a responsible father in spite of all the trouble he used to get into, surely there is hope still for my son.

These are just my thoughts. Feel free to add your thoughts in the comments – I welcome them. I know there are many other parents reading this with cognitively advanced children in school so I hope you can share your experiences and your thoughts about this particular subject.

Published by Shen-Li

SHEN-LI LEE is the author of “Brainchild: Secrets to Unlocking Your Child’s Potential”. She is also the founder of Figur8.net (a website on parenting, education, child development) and RightBrainChild.com (a website on Right Brain Education, cognitive development, and maximising potentials). In her spare time, she blogs on Forty, Fit & Fed, and Back to Basics.

8 thoughts on “Is Cognitive Advancement Linked to Juvenile Deliquency?

  1. Would they advance him to a higher grade? If not, perhaps change schools? Or take him out of school and let him select a number of courses he would be interested in? I remember being bored silly in class because my tutor had taught me way beyond the class (I was awful at Math till my Mom found this really great tutor) and then I was deemed a troublemaker in class.

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    1. Hi Mephala,

      There was a discussion about whether to advance him to a higher grade but both hubby and I agreed not to because we did not think he was emotionally ready for it. Academically, we know he is there, but emotionally and socially, he is not. School, for a large part for us is to provide him the avenue for socialisation. I know you can do that with homeschooling, but I do confess that I am hopeless at socialising myself which is hubby strongest argument for why we need school.

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  2. Doesn’t the school realize that for some naturally very advanced kids, the other kids will never catch up, no mater how much they try? If the school doesn’t get this point, then I presume it has little experience with advanced children. It can only deal with the norm. Discuss with hubby and understand more about his schooling years and his suggestions? Even for SAHM, I believe bringing up a child is both parents’ jobs, to consider various alternatives.

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    1. MieVee – whoops. I just re-read my post and realised that it sounds a lot like the school said that but actually it was a comment by a relative in response to the problems we have had with Aristotle at school. I should correct that because Aristotle’s teacher has actually been really helpful and proactive in helping us work through these rough patches. I have to say I was really impressed by his level of dedication to his job. If all Aristotle’s teacher turn out to be like this in the coming years, I have no problem keeping him at this school. I am still pondering how to make it all work though…

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  3. V   sat in the same class with Primary 5 (11yo) and Form 2 (13yo) students to solve the same abacus and mental sum.  And I observe she just unfit physically and emotionally to be in the same class with them, and I believe life experience entails knowledge too.
    Then I start to tell her “good” virtues: that in this world they are TOO many people who are wiser/knowledgeable than her that she should be humble and pay attention to and even the two “ko-ko” in the math class can be her teacher…..
    BECAUSE the biggest problem with advanced children is “they always think they know everything” so, my fear with children this category is once fail they fail miserably.
    So  I suggest the constructive way is to give some advice why they should follow instruction like a broken record if advancement in level is not an option, or advance them to another level or  homeschool them.

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    1. That’s an excellent point FZ. I guess that’s what I want Aristotle to learn – that there is always something to learn from everyone, even people you perceive to be less intelligent than you. I want him to learn compassion and humility.

      As it is, I think that a couple of incidences at school have arisen from jealousy. A fellow student came up with a clever idea and everyone praised her for it. I’m assuming that Aristotle is used to being the one who is praised and may have been jealous. That’s just something he has to learn to deal with because it’s part of what life’s about. He may be advanced but that doesn’t mean he should get arrogant about it and I guess it’s our role to ensure that he doesn’t.

      I guess the reason why he is at school is because I believe that he gets experiences at school I cannot provide for him at home. I do after school activities with him because I feel that there are things I can provide for him that the school cannot. I guess I look at it as trying to get the best of both worlds and accepting the compromises and limitations that come with it.

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    1. MieVee – I really like that, too! I was only aware of Young Explorers Montessori Play Group in Mont Kiara 1 that had the mixed age groups but they only take up to 6 years old which would mean we still had to find a new school after 6.

      Thanks for the two links. Rafelsia, unfortunately, only takes children with learning disabilities. 😦 But I like the school idea, though. I wonder if there are any others closer to us…?

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