What are your earliest memories? Not the memories you think you remember but actual memories? Sometimes, we think we remember people or events because we have heard the stories of those happenings throughout our lives. But they are actually false memories, fleshed out with details by older relatives and then supported with photographs.
Most of us can only remember back to our 5th or 6th year, with only flashes of memories from before that. That means that what adults think they remember from their preschool years are actually memories from kindergarten and later. They have very specific memories of making turkey centerpieces for Thanksgiving, and sitting at tables doing worksheets. They remember lining up, putting on their coats, sitting quietly, going to the lunchroom and opening their own milk. They remember beginning to read, to count, and to compute. I too, remember all of this as clearly as if it were yesterday. But I know that these memories are from school, not preschool.
This is one explanation why many parents have expectations of their children that are unreasonable. Their actual memories of their first school experiences are from kindergarten, not preschool. It is our job to help parents know what 0-5 year old typical development looks like. We have to remind them what 2 year olds actually do and what they are learning to do. We can reassure them that their 3-year-old is developing as expected and will eventually learn his letters and how to read (but it is fairly likely that it won’t happen this year.)
For many people their only frame of reference for what this period of the lifespan looks like is their own – so it stands to reason that they have unrealistic expectations because their frame is faulty.