This is a picture of my kid with his bike at the age of 3 and 11/12 months:
This is a more recent picture of him with his new bike at the age of 4 and 30 seconds:
Some pretty major things needed to happen to get from picture #1 to picture #2. For example, in our family:
- Four year-olds need to be able to put on their own socks.
- Four year-olds need to make their beds when they get up in the morning.
- Four year-olds need to take their plates to the kitchen after they are done eating.
- Four year-olds, for goodness sake, need to feed themselves!!!
That’s right. We instituted milestones.
Milestones are constructed to provide reference points along the road. This can be used to reassure travelers that the proper path is being followed, and to indicate either distance traveled or the remaining distance to a destination. ~Wikipedia
Milestones, in this way, promote learning and help us assess how well we are doing toward a learning outcome. In the world of educational assessment, we call milestones a kind of “formative assessment.”
In my family, it’s what got us sanely from three to four.
Ok, ok, in all fairness, we really created milestones so to preserve what’s left of our parental sanity, but we also wanted the kid to have a goal (being four), to work toward something significant and important (and I quote, “Mama, I fed myself my dinner all by myself; now I can be four!”), and to have a sense of accomplishment when he got there.
The payoff for reaching these milestones? Well, not only did the kid actually turn four (which frankly seemed significant enough to all of us), but he also got that new bike in picture #2.
And guess what! To prove to us that he had in fact turned four, he ate 2 pieces of this birthday cake!
All by himself!