Originally Posted by whatsnextmom
A hot house is used to grow plants out of season. When you are starting reading programs with a 2-year-old you are teaching them out of season.
To extend the metaphor and complicate things, though, we here on this forum are often dealing with unusual "early-season varieties." If I am getting salad greens before the last frost it doesn't necessarily mean I'm using a hothouse: my seeds may have been cold-hardy northern spinach rather than butter lettuce. If I give my gifted homeschooled 4-year-old exactly the same gentle playful teaching that would be given to his non-gifted 7-year-old cousin in school, and he responds by learning to read easily and joyfully just as his cousin does, should that be considered "out of season" and thereby hothousing?
For the record, I am not a supporter of actively teaching reading to young children. But I do think the "out of season" metaphor is too simplistic when it comes to speaking of asynchronous gifted kids.
As an unschooler, I have never taught any of my kids anything that was not led by their own interest and enthusiasm. I suppose if it came to it I would insist on swimming instruction in the situation described above, because that is a life-and-death safety issue. I can't think of many other examples where I might do so, though. As my kids got older they were able to identify goals for themselves and realize that some grunt-work was necessary along the way -- and undertake that of their own volition. They saw that to, say, learn to program with a 3D graphics engine one was going to need a robust understanding of trigonometry. Or to play the Tchaikowsky violin concerto, years of work to master scales and arpeggios was going to be needed as a precursor. (A snide little brag inserted here: The day before yesterday I listened to dd19 perform the Tchaikowsky. What an amazing thing for me to witness!) Anyway I've always found that open-minded discussion and advice about the importance of certain types of learning was taken into consideration and put into action by my kids. Not necessarily on my schedule or in the way I would have chosen but accomplished nonetheless.