Maturity is that point when an organism is fully grown and developed.   In psychology, maturity is the ability to respond to the environment in an appropriate manner.  As a teacher, I tend to think of the process of maturing in terms of the latter definition.  My goal for students in a classroom is for them to behave in an appropriate manner for their age and grade level.

    Gifted education can cause some consternation in this matter since students are often placed in advanced classes due to their academic abilities.  As younger children participate in activities with students older than they, bumps and bruises (usually unintentional) become an often -epeated fact.  I, like many educators, find this situation a catch 22!  Meeting the needs of gifted children becomes a difficult balancing act!

    Placement of gifted students, therefore, must be done on an individual basis.  What may be good for one child may be the undoing of another child in the same setting.  At LAAS we take great care and do a lot of consulting before we move a child above his chronological level.  And if, after such a move is made, the child cannot adjust to the advanced maturity levels, we certainly will allow the move to be rescinded.

    In reality, our typical problems are not the students mentioned above, but the students who come to us very far below the expected maturity level for their ages.  I often see this in the primary grades where parents are so anxious to have their child in school that obvious problems are overlooked in the application process.  Children who are not potty-trained cannot have a successful experience in our four-year-old classroom.  Yes, there are some parents who allow children to continue to wear disposable pull ups even at three and four years of age.  With the invention of new absorbent materials, students who are not potty-trained feel no discomfort at all.  However, other students can smell the soiled underwear and often will express their disgust with not so polite adjectives!

    My teachers are noticing more and more the inability of young children to reach their mouths with food.  Much of their snacks are all over the floor and are left for the teacher to pick up after snack time is over.  My own reaction has been to compare these children to my own and those in my schools over the past years and realize how much more immature these students seem.  Perhaps, I think, it is because so many people are reading texts on their phones during meals that no one notices food being cast all over the table, floor, chairs and other children.   At last, my teachers are beginning to agree with me that snack time will go if more responsibility isn’t shown.  Guess what?!  I’ve already seen some improvement.  And yes, I do reward change for the better!

    If schools want to improve, they might start by not accepting the status quo of today…and try to instill some old-fashioned table manners, social manners, and responsibility.  It didn’t warp my children or any of the students I’ve watched pass through our schools in the past.  I think it would be a good first step in helping our nation to become a better one, with responsible citizens acting appropriately in their environment.     

-        Kay