I suppose I should join...when I first saw the thread title, what I had in my mind about delaying academics was waiting until around age 8 for any formal instruction to begin. I personally am not an unschooler, and I wouldn't be comfortable waiting until 8...but I'm totally in agreement with skipping academics for preschool age kids ! Our DS2 turned 5 a couple of months ago. I have never pushed academics with him. He watches Letter Factory for fun and learned numbers from the chart on the kitchen wall (that was put there for DS1). He is pretty good with letter sounds. He is not reading any words yet besides his own name...really he is just now a tiny bit interested. He attempts to write his name sometimes. I have him spend a little time in a Kumon pre-writing book with a marker, so he gets some practice controlling the marker. He has free access to writing materials of all sorts.
I have always felt like an oddball in this area. I feel I am surrounded by ladies whose kids basically taught themselves to read at age 3 or 4, and just started writing one day. Our older son is almost eight. He has some vision and visual processing issues and learning to read and write has been a difficult struggle that's been going on for the last two years. I did begin at age 5.5 with him. At that age, he had a difficult time learning the alphabet and letter sounds. That was before we began to learn about his vision problems. He has glasses now, and he patched daily for six months to recover his vision in one eye. He's been in vision therapy for almost a year now and meets weekly with a reading tutor and he works hard every single day. I have to do a lot of research to find what works for him. There is no way for him to learn to read and write that isn't going to be hard. I believe DS2 will have it much easier...he is already picking things up easily and quickly when he wants to. I do not feel any reason to hurry or push him.
When I hear of kids who learned so easily, and so young, I hope their parents appreciate that gift of not having literacy be a struggle. I also often feel that others look down on me as some sort of slacker homeschooler who must not take it seriously or do a very good job of it, or conclude that my kids must not be very bright because their child was doing at 3 or 4 what mine is just doing at 7.5. I wish they could see and appreciate the tremendous effort that our older son has put into getting to where he is with reading and writing so far. He hasn't let it get him down, and he keeps plugging away at it. Coming from this experience, I am in no hurry to push our 5 yo. He is showing me that he can remember which letters make which sounds from one day to the next, he remembers what the letters look like, and that his fine motor skills are improving as he matures. I am not seeing any of the same red flags with him, so I am relieved and relaxed, and feeling like he is doing exactly what is right for him at this age.
I know there are kids who are not pushed and really do start learning to read or write at an early age through nothing but casual exposure - I do believe that can happen and IMO there's nothing wrong when it does. But much more often I meet parents who are concerned that their child is (gasp) almost four and not yet reading anything beyond CVC words and who are wanting to spend an hour or more a day teaching the child to read and write and do addition and subtraction....so they will not be behind in kindergarten !!!! It bothers me that this is becoming the new normal. IMO it's a needless rat race for young kids.
Edited by PGTlatte - 12/1/10 at 6:15pm