Friday, September 23, 2011

We are Hard-Wired

We are all products of our environment. Or are we?

My sister and I often talk about how different we are, yet we grew up in the same family. "Isn't it strange?" we both laugh, we can't believe sometimes that we came from the same set of parents. Clearly, some of those differences are hard-wired into us.

I am finding the same in my two girls, and it is fascinating.

Great example:

One of the expectations of Lindsey and all her other 3rd grade classmates is that they will read independently for 20 minutes every night. Each evening Lindsey records what she read, how many pages, and one of us has to sign it.

This is not a hard task for Lindsey -- she LOVES to read. Her reading list of books she wants to tackle next is longer than mine. She's got the Laura Ingalls Wilder set, the C.S. Lewis "Chronicles of Narnia" set, and now she has discovered Roald Dahl, author of "James and the Giant Peach," and is currently picking up every Roald Dahl book she can get her hands on.

The first night this instruction and the corresponding chart came home Lindsey couldn't wait to start filling it out. Lindsey wanted to use a timer to track her minutes so she could accurately record how much she reads.

"Mom," she calls, "Set the timer for 25 minutes."

"25 minutes? But you only have to read for 20."

"I know, but I want to do more than that. Set it for 25."

What is it in her that makes her, at age 8, want to exceed her teacher's expectations? We didn't tell her she had to do more, she set that goal for herself. Is it because she loves reading so much? Is it because she wants to please her teacher? Or is she an over-achiever, who always wants to go above the standards?

We'll have to watch for other clues in her behavior as to what's motivating her. In the meantime, I am fascinated by learning how my kids are hard-wired.


  1. So great that she wants to read more and funny that she wants to time herself.
    My twin sister and I have been opposites since we were born. It meant my parents had to treat us very differently...she was so shy and wouldn't try new things while I was really outgoing. So I think nature influences nurture, even in the same family.

  2. Laura, that's even more amazing because you and your sister are twins!