Once upon a time I read many great articles that explained why it's good to let kids be kids and not start reading until ages 7 or 8 (with the exception of the kids who pick it up on their own earlier). The idea really resonated with me and I knew that was how we'd be. Totally relaxed about it. Right? Well, not as much now that my 5 year old daughter has a cousin three months younger than her who is reading full books. I know the comparisons are inevitable. Soon enough the holidays will be here and I'll get asked why she can't read yet and still doesn't even know all the letters in the alphabet. I know basically how to respond, but I'd like to head some of that off by posting some of those well written, non-judgemental articles to my Facebook. The trouble is that now I can't locate any of those articles! If anyone would be able to send me some links I'd appreciate it so much! I really need to re-up my inspiration and faith in it too. I don't want to get caught up in believing that I need to push her to catch up with her cousin.
I am 100% feeling your situation, I'm in the same boat with my son who at age 8.5 (3 rd grade in the school world!!!) should be knowing his addition table by heart, i.e. 5+3=8 :) But ask him 4+2 and he stalls. So yeah, in his case I'm making it a game, but again he understands math and he can do it with manipulables.
I would say just don't post anything to FB or anything, just don't make it about you. Appreciate her daughters strengths and talents. When they ask you about your daughter, tell them about her favorite book, or how she likes to make stories about purple unicorns or whatever and change the subject. I would go with your daughter and buy her cousin a book at her cousins level and just go along with it. The same way you probably wouldn't want people posting on "How everyone reaches different levels of drawing differently" if your daughter had a talent in drawing, sometimes it's just nice to have someone acknowledge our kids and not always make it about their kids and their lives. If you get asked, just emphasizing how nice it is the other cousin reads and ask the cousin what kind of books she likes reading and would she like to read to you, etc. Make it all about her and deflects it from you. After all she is the one reading and she should get the attention for it too and not have to listen to everyone comment on her cousin who can't read lol. Also my brother could read French, English and some Korean by 4 and my mom was really hurt by how many people would just ignore him or act mad because their kids couldn't. She felt hurt why they couldn't just be happy for him and truly APPRECIATE her child's value... Also pleeeeease don't ask those kids if they understand what they are reading (they do!!!). We get asked that a lot and it's demeaning. And when people "test" it's also annoying :)
For reading I would say it's much more going on. And your kid is 5!!!!!!!!!!!!!! No joke, when I was 7 and in first grade kids were learning the letters. I learned to read before 3 (At 3 I could read the Bible) and guess what? By 4th or 5th grade there was no difference between me and the other children!!!! My mom taught herself to read at 4.5 and actually the more I think about it, most people in my family were early readers (genetics maybe? I have identical twins who really learn very similar compared to my other two kids, i.e. they learned letters, phonics ,etc and begged to be taught around same month). On the other hand my husband didn't learn to read until 7 when most kids in the 80s learned to read and he reads a well as me and is way more educated.
Making her cousins reading as a "bad" thing or as she is more advanced well.. it's a slippery slope. If we can't be happy we gotta be quiet I guess hehe. My mom and me both have sons 12 weeks apart and her kid knew 3 languages by 4, was doing algebra at 5 and was really kind of genius. And at some point my mom was like, geez so what do you do with your kid all day?!? He should be learning you know!!! So yeah, I can understand, and she was unschooling too (he learned Korean through Korean Drama and learned to read the English subtitles lol). He is a very sensitive child, who doesn't adapt easily to new situations and he is extremely perceptive and has very low pain tolerance. On the other hand my son is very easy going, he adapts easily to new situations and he doesn't care about getting hurt. So while one kid stayed in a corner reading the other was outside playing rough. Now at 8.5 they surprisingly play similarly, and read the same level. My brother forgot Korean and even French (my family is French) which he could read and speak 100% before coming from a French area but after 1 year in USA he is now almost lost it all. So it's really amazing how things can, do and WILL change....
Just my 2 cents worth, coming from both sides of the fence and having 4 kids who are all at very different letters (I mean LEVELS!)
I agree with flecet to reconsider posting such articles on Facebook. Parents like affirmation of their choices, and contrary views raised by someone else, rather than being actively sought out as a result of their own curiosity, runs the risk of creating defensiveness.
I'm the parent of some kids who were very early (spontaneous / self-taught) early readers, and also friends with families where the kids learned to read later with awesome results. Which is to say that I totally understand the value of letting a child's literacy unfold naturally, self-directedly and possibly considerably later than is considered normal in our society. If, back when my eldest was reading Harry Potter at 5, my sister in law, who was homeschooler her 8-year-old, had posted non-judgemental articles about the value of learning to read 'later,' it still would have made me feel defensive, as if she was judging and challenging what was going on in my family. I would have wondered whether she assumed my child was pushed and instructed (as such articles tend to warn against) and that was why she felt the need to point out her supposedly-better way. So even though I was philosophically sympathetic to her way of doing things, I would have felt defensive if she shared such articles.
I think it may be useful to have access to such information in case extended family expresses curiosity about the approach and wanted to know more but otherwise I would just do what flecet suggested which is to focus on what your dd is learning. Storytelling, handicrafts, whatever it is. I also think that if you're questioned about her literacy skills, you should have a few casual sentences that you can throw out with smiling confidence. Life "We're inspired by models from Scandinavian school systems, where literacy teaching doesn't really ramp up until age 7, and the earlier years are focused on experiential, creative and naturalistic learning." Or "I love watching her learning unfold according to her own readiness. We're laying the foundation for literacy learning in many ways, but at this point her learning momentum is really moving in other directions and so we're supporting those things more actively. Things will shift in good time."
I don't know of any articles in support of delayed literacy education off-hand, but "Better Late Than Early" by the Moores is often suggested as a good book on delaying academic instruction. Haven't read it myself.
Mountain mama to three great kids and one great grown-up
hugs. no worries. FWIW, i am a fairly structured homeschooler, but wanted to pop in. i hope you don't mind. i didn't even begin to teach reading at all until my children were at least six years old. in fact, i don't do anything structured until ages 6 or 7 (and I'm talking an hour or two?). I read to them, followed their interest, etc. but my child actually reading wasn't on my radar at that age.
even when they began reading, we focused on their progress and not public school milestones. my son was reading very simple books at age 7 & didn't take off with reading until closer to 8. He will be ten soon and is an avid & advanced reader now. my daughter is 12 & reads great too. I know you may feel the pressure of public school milestones sometimes or comparing our kids to others their age, but honestly, a child that is five years old and educating at home isn't behind anyone or anything. Really.
homeschooling mama to DD 10 & DS 7
I have a slightly different perspective here. I'd first add the caveat that it really depends on the exact article. I think some articles are obviously inflammatory, and some are far more diplomatic, far more focused on doing what is right for your child. I am sure I can think of articles which stress no early teaching - that's effectively what John Holt says in Learning All The Time iirc- but don't suggest that you're going to screw up your kid's brain wiring if you let them read earlier. I'd go for an article which concentrates on the positives about waiting til a child is ready and stresses that kids develop into competent bookworms after not reading til age 8 or older.
As the parent of later, now avid, readers, I do really understand where you are coming from. I do think late reading is something that will get you hassle from people and I think homeschooling tends to be seen as much more acceptable if you are just straightforwardly doing school at home. I think if the family will accept "oh she's interested in xyz...we do abc" then that is really great and do that, but my own experience was that my husband's family would have liked to be quite insistent "is he reading. Can he do x in math" (we actually had to refuse to discuss it to preserve the relationship but that's another story).
So I think, if you can find a very non-judgmental article that celebrates late reading and so on-rather than criticising early readers-and if FB is the best medium for you to get that across to your relatives, then I'd consider posting it. I am pretty sure my sister in law, an early years teacher with a child the same age as my youngest-has posted stuff about the benefits of early reading intervention (my kids all read late). Just goes over my head, she does what's right for her boys and her family and I do whats right for my kids and that's great. Its probably relationship-specific, is what I'm trying to say.
But I also think, if your daughter has a same-age cousin and in your family these comparisons are acceptable, then this isn't going to be a problem that will go away. I'd sort this out now. My family explicitly does not make comparisons between the cousins. And following, ahem, too much discussion, we now will not talk about the specifics of what any child is doing or not doing education wise with the family unless they choose to share it. I extend this courtesy to my schooled nephews also. OTOH I have a reasonable relationship with my sister in law, despite being very different, and if she posted something on FB that really offended me tbh I'd just PM her or call and say so. This sounds to me to be a very family specific thing.
Is there even a possibility that you could approach the parent of the cousin directly? Although right now its her kid who is "ahead", there are sure to be times in the future when its yours. How about having a "no comparing kids" rule that you BOTH trot out if the comparisons start? I'd also more generally consider thinking about what you are and are not prepared to discuss about your kids education with those who are likely to be critical. I won't discuss educational specifics with most people, partly because its my kids business, IMO, but also because I'm not prepared to get into debate or get defensive about how I've chosen to raise my kids. And I have an absolute, non negotiable rule that I will not discuss the validity of whether we homeschool with anyone in front of my kids. Its an important part of their life and deserves respect, IMO.
I'm so glad to have read everyone's responses so far. It's really some food for thought.
I guess what might really be going on is my own personal fears of what COULD happen, rather than what IS happening. Early on in my mothering journey I raised a lot of eyebrows with my parenting decisions within the family and there were times where my choices were called out as being the reason Rowen behaved the way she did. Which was nothing above or beyond normal kid stuff.
I'm really glad to have warned against making it about me, which I think if I didn't have a forewarning about then I may have done exactly that without realizing that was what I was doing. That was kind of why I was looking for a good article that could articulate my reasoning in a way that didn't come down on anyone else. But you never know how someone is going to take something, no matter how good your intentions.
And I am very happy for the cousin! His mom (my SIL) has always worked on things with him more so because she enjoys being with him and doing things with him than because she's stressing out about him knowing these things. His parents approach learning with enthusiasm and he doesn't seem to resent reading. If it hadn't been pointed out to me that I should show that happiness for him and celebrate their differences I might have continued being reserved about it out of defensiveness (which honestly, is not only not fair to him but also could create problems where there may not have been any previously!). That made me feel so sad to hear about kids who were exceptional and were ignored because other kids weren't doing the same things! I don't want him to feel that I'm being that way with him.
I think I have a better idea of how to handle these situations as they come up. Lots of great suggestionson how to field, or refuse to field those kinds of questions. Rowen does love to come up with stories, she draws them and then dictates the tales to me. She is always making books, and recently has gone so far as to take cardboard out of the recycling bin and glues paper to make them.
Thank you all for your responses! It feels so good to feel someone's got my back, you've all helped more than you know!