The Age of Six
The Age of Six… what a fascinating time this is! A time of physical growth, emotional growth, and intellectual growth. It is remarkable! And I am witnessing these growths – these changes – within my son at a rapid rate.
Just weeks before Liam turned 6 years old I witnessed a major shift within him that directly impacted our relationship. After weeks of being on the receiving end of his daily tantrums I broke down. I sobbed. And when I was ready and able to talk, he actually listened, and he thought about my words. He understood how his behaviour was affecting me, and he made positive changes that influenced how we respond to each other (you can read more about it in my post Reflecting on the Journey). It was in those moments that I realized he is growing up.
Fast-forward a few weeks, and he is in Grade 1. Another momentous shift. At Grade 1 children are expected to sit at desks/tables, listen to instruction, and independently do their work (writing, reading, problem-solving). I was greatly concerned about this because Liam struggles with focus and he struggles with sitting still. But Liam goes to school happy and he comes home happy. He does his homework, and he even asked me to pick up a writing workbook to help him [at home] because he felt that he was struggling and falling behind. This type of self-awareness was not something I anticipated at the tender age of six. However, I obliged him and I purchased levelled workbooks. So, on the weekends, I sit with him and guide him through the exercises.
What I have learned over these past few months is that unwavering support at this age is imperative. As is praise. Liam desperately wants us to be proud of him, which we are, and we tell him so. However I often praise him for who he is rather than what he has done. I think it is important to acknowledge and praise the goodness within our children – the person – not just the accomplished task. And just as we support him at home, his teacher has been supporting him at school. She works diligently at finding ways to connect with Liam, guide Liam, and encourage Liam. She has recognized where he needs assistance and, with our support here at home, is helping him to overcome the challenges he faces. Because of this co-partnership Liam is improving, and he is growing. Within a matter of weeks we have seen him advance 5 reading levels, hold a pencil correctly, remember how to spell sight words, and how to problem-solve. His maturity is blossoming, and though he still struggles with self-regulation, he is aware of his feelings and he has been working on managing them.
All of these growths and honed abilities shine through in his everyday activities and encounters. He draws, creating elaborate illustrations with detailed storylines. He plays less with his cars and more with his play sets, inventing scenarios, plots, and clever narratives. His imagination is brimming with innovative ideas and/or reenactments. And with this wonderful world of play comes the magic of make believe. His ability to capture the essence of humanity in a story is astounding. This creative play has allowed him to explore human relations. His interactions with friends, adults, and family have altered because of his ability to understand the world around him. He can enjoy conversations, tell stories, and ask pertinent questions, engaging his audience in the moment. And he is only the tender age of six.
With the age of six comes so much change, which can be frightening, overwhelming, and daunting for both child and parent. This is a time that requires a whole new level of patience, support, consistency, and love – so much love.
And everyday I am grateful to be on this journey. I am grateful that I am present to raise my son. I get to help him navigate through all these changes; and I get to hold onto the memories of my small child that was, all the while encouraging the mature child that is emerging. I am grateful.
Six. It is a tender age.
The Age of Six. Published by Crystal Joy Hall