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Are You Walking or Dragging Your Child To School?

by Early Math Counts

There is a man who lives in my neighborhood who walks his dog around the same time as I do each morning. This guy virtually drags his poor dog down the block at break-neck speed. It makes me so sad for his poor little companion. It reminds me of a cartoon I once saw of a man exactly like this one and the thought bubble coming out of the dog’s head said,
“Whose walk is this anyway?”

I shouldn’t have been surprised then when I saw this same man dragging his two young children to school a couple of weeks ago. He had each one by the hand and he was power walking them down the block exactly the same way he walks his dog. These little boys are probably 4 and 6 (they may even be 3 and 5). Suffice to say, they are little. I started looking for this family to see if it was a one-time occurrence (he walks the dog like this every single day) or a one-off bad day. Yeah, he walks his little guys to school like this every single day.

It got me thinking about how I might approach a parent in my class or program who rushed his children around like this. I considered the “math angle” and wrote my older son and father-in-law to get some “math perspective”.

The question is this. If a child’s legs are half as long as an adult’s and an adult can walk at a pace of 4 miles per hour (15 minute miles) how fast will a child have to walk to keep pace with the adult?

My father-in-law responded by telling me it was a trick question. The child has to walk at exactly the same pace in order to keep up (15 minute miles or 4 miles per hour). Duh!

I never said I was smart.

So, I rephrased the question to ask what I really wanted to know. “How much harder does a child have to work to maintain the same pace as an adult whose legs are twice as long?”

The answer of course, is twice as hard.

Now imagine that an 11-foot tall super human is walking you to work. This super human’s legs are twice as long as yours. Try keeping pace with this super human. You might as well be hitched to the back of a station wagon moving about 10 miles per hour. I guarantee that you will fall, trip, become exhausted, frustrated, and upset. There is also a really good chance that you will get hurt.

When you next see a grown-up dragging a child across or down the street, consider encouraging that person to slow down and allow their child to walk at a safe pace; one that makes sense for the length of his legs, and the natural speed of his stride.

5 Replies to “Are You Walking or Dragging Your Child To School?”

  1. I think that most of the time, parents don\’t realize how much they rush their kids, especially, when they seem late to go to work. It\’s obvious to keep in mind that everything we\’re rushing to do never benefits us. The important thing to do is to take reasonable time to do it properly, and then the result is clear, and prompt. Therefore, we, as adults should model the behavior we want to teach our progenies. Keep in mind that children learn from us by observing each movement, gesture, word, and step we\’re doing. It would better to teach good skills, than bad practice.

    1. Absolutely. We also have to remember that once in a while, it is not the end of the world to rush through something, but it shouldn\’t be the way we operate on a daily basis.

  2. First of all, I agreed with you “Jen”, that the strange man rushed the poor boys to school without consideration that two boys are legs twice shorter than the man is. So, I have two perspectives for your article. First for the parenting role, it seems like this man is using the authoritative parenting style to control their kids. So that the kids learn to follow parents’ role no matter how difficult it is in their daily routine. If the man can show his power outside his house, I don’t want to get what happen to kids inside either. Second for the math moment, if young kids don’t have good background of the basic math in early of their lives, it would be hard to put or rush the kids to get what they did not learn it at the beginning. I think we should help kids to make sense of the basic number and relationship between things that surrounding them. Giving children time to reflect what they thought and adults walk through with them. Adults-kids listen and take turn to speak up or share their ideas. I believe no right or wrong way to learn math & science or any subject, if makes its fun.

  3. I thought that this blog entry was pretty interesting! I get mixed emotions about this when I read it. Why? Well, I tend to do this most mornings with my daughter, who is 7, when I take her to school. To most people, it may seem like I am an irresponsible parent running late dragging her child to school, but in reality we are having fun. I am one of those parents that likes to find ways to educate while entertaining my children. Before we head out of the house, (which it\’s a 10 minute walk from home to school) my daughter and I tend to guess how long will it take us that day to get to school? She sometimes initiates the running or speed walking. She sometimes even grabs my hand and it seems like she\’s dragging me, but other times we tend to race one another. There are times when she does not feel as energetic and she wants to walk it slowly and we take advantage of this \”slow\” time by looking at our surroundings and having our mini math quizzes. The point of this \”activity\” (if you can call it that) is to teach her math-adding the minutes in time. For example, if we leave home at 7:45 AM and we get to school at 7:53 AM, how many minutes did it take us? Why did it take us less time to get to school today than yesterday? or Why did it take us more time to get to school today than yesterday? My daughter is perfectly fine with this as she enjoys these moments in the mornings. I have also been trying to teach her the importance of living a healthier lifestyle, so the morning workout does us both good! Maybe this man\’s intentions are not as they seem. I have been given hard and bad looks when I\’m taking my child at school and I could guess it\’s because they may think that I might be an irresponsible who is always running late and dragging her child to school. To be honest, I would\’ve thought the same if I did not do the morning activity with my daughter. I also believe that most parents become very sensitive once it comes to someone telling them how they have to raise, treat their children even if it\’s in a polite way. Just wanted to share my perspective. 🙂

    1. I do appreciate your situation. It sounds like you are making a day-to-day activity into one that is fun and exciting. I think \”estimating\” or \”guessing\” how long it will take and then rushing or slowing down to get it right is a great idea. Time is one of those slippery concepts for kids, so any time we can use it in the spirit of play, the better.
      I wish my observations of this gentleman told the same story. There is a lot of pulling, yanking and little feet falling all over each other. I wish he were playing a game with his boys.

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