The Perfect Baby Blog

Toddlers with awkward gaits need not apply

Tuesday, March 3rd, 2009

I was recently perusing the website for the prestigious Horace Mann nursery school in New York City. The site is stringently designed. Uptight, preppy, with the occasional photo of children enjoying “recess” by standing sedately beside a picnic table.

horacebabyI was quite struck by the downloadable assessment sheet the school uses to evaluate the hopeful four-year-olds applying to its program, and quickly realized that if most adults were held to the same standards, this nursery school would inevitably reject us. Consider some of the requirements listed under physical development:

1. Possesses “sense of body in space”: Do you know what your body’s up to at any given time? For all I know, mine could be tucked away in a cutlery drawer right now.

2. “Uses appropriate pencil grip”: Be honest. Have you never been guilty of gripping a pencil inappropriately? Perhaps when using it to smugly note a triple-word score in Scrabble?

3. “Works with manipulatives”: What’s a manipulative? Is your four-year-old expected to get character references from the scheming six-year-olds he works with hand-knotting dhuri carpets?

4. “Draws with details”: How many of us sketch at all, let alone take the time to render the subtle variations in the peel of an orange?

5. “Gait, fluidity, and smoothness of movement”: Gait? Is Horace Mann looking for promising four-year-olds or thoroughbred Arabian ponies?

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