I was having a conversation with my 11-year old nephew this evening and he remarked that his 3-year old baby sister asked him to give her her privacy. I said yes he should give her her privacy. He said he was surprised she even knew the word. He then added that younger kids seemed to be learning faster these days. This kicked off a short conversation on why kids learn faster.
I told him that it made sense because the younger kids had more teachers than the older ones. That if he thought about it, when he was born, he was the first. He had no older sibling. It was just him, mommy and daddy. So he had only two teachers in the home, apart from his other teachers when he started school.
But that his younger sister, when she was born, had 3 teachers: mommy, daddy, and him. He was, and is, also his sister’s teacher because just as she would speak and listen to mommy and daddy, she would also speak and listen to him. So it stands to reason that, as she is being taught more, she is absorbing more. And if she is a really smart cookie, she’ll spout more. And my niece is a smart cookie. Ergo, a younger, smarter, generation.
In fact, one can also argue that with the second child being born, the older child now has a third teacher too, if only younger. Because the older child will probably pick up one or two things from the younger child.
Another way one can look at this is the value of having a village raise a child rather than just the parents. With more people interacting with and watching over our children, our children have the opportunity to learn more and learn faster. But we should be careful not to relegate the children to a seen-but-not-heard status even with the ‘village’ around them because then they won’t learn.
They won’t learn because they are not interacting, they are not expressing themselves, they are not being allowed to, and therefore they are not learning. And other kids who are allowed to interact and express themselves will learn more and learn faster, and when they are older, be better, do better and be more successful in what they do.
This is why children in more advanced societies seem to do better than children in less advanced societies. This is also probably why those societies are so advanced in the first place. Because they are run by smarter people. Simply because children in advanced societies are allowed to ask questions, have their questions answered, express their curiosity, and interact with children and adults alike, and learn.
When I finished talking, my nephew added that yes, as families grew and had more brothers and sisters, and aunties and uncles, and cousins, the children would learn even faster. This beautiful smart nephew of mine made the point of the increasing value of large families, and fostering good relationships with as many family members as possible. Oh yes, he is big on family.
My point here is that there is certainly increasing value in having multiple children and allowing children the freedom to express themselves and learn, on the children and on our society.
Having said this, I add the disclaimer that we should probably have only the children we can afford to have.