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#1 of 6 Old 03-16-2003, 09:44 PM - Thread Starter
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Hello! I'm a mama to a wonderful 3.5 year old daughter, Makenna.

I have always believed that this age should be full of play and that 'academics' should be introduced through play and normal activities. Don't know quite where I got that philosophy, but it is there.

My trouble recently is that dd's friends all appear much ahead of her academically. One just 4 year old is reading, 2 other 3.5 year olds know most of their letters and numbers and are beginning to write. My dd can count to 5 and can count objects to 3. She knows the letters "m" and "o".

On the other hand, she is very creative...always making things with paper and tape and using everyday objects in unique ways. She loves to be read to and to read to herself. She is lately frustrated that she "doesn't know the words" in the books but will re-tell some short stories.

I'm torn..as her b-day falls late she will not start K for 2.5 more years. My plan had been to unschool/homeschool for the next 1.5 years and maybe have her have a year of preschool. But, I don't want to force her to learn...I want it to be natural. But now that she seems 'behind' her peers academically, I'm afraid to just let it happen naturally....I feel like I should be pushing her to learn more traditional academic things.

Gosh....this was long...I'm sorry!

Any insight? TIA!
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#2 of 6 Old 03-16-2003, 09:56 PM
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Hi Shimmer -- Welcome!

I'd say that if you're concerned about your dd being behind her peers, but still want her to learn through play....maybe you could make the "learning" fun. For instance, when my ds was younger, we played games with letters and numbers. I never "forced" him to learn, but he seemed to really enjoy discovering the sounds of letters and making up rhyming words, and playing games with counting. I still felt he was learning naturally, even though I was introducing concepts and ideas to him. We just made everything a game and only did it when he wanted to.

Now that he's 5.5, he's just learning how to really read, he's probably at a late 1st grade/early 2nd grade level in math (he just loves numbers), and we still make learning fun. We never push him to learn -- if he's not interested in something, we drop it. But I still introduce things to see if it piques his curiosity.

Don't know if this helps, but I hope so! Just bring up letters and numbers and such, and see if your dd wants to play along. If she does, great. If not, just keep doing what you're doing.

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#3 of 6 Old 03-16-2003, 10:57 PM
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I highly recommend Your Child's Developing Mind by Jane Healy. It reassures in a relatively scientific manner that the only "academic" pushing should come from within the child. If a child shows interest in learning to read, it's because they are likely neurologically developed enough to handle it. Otherwise you could be forcing neural circuits to be wired for specific skills (e.g. letter recognition) in areas of the brain not optimized for these skills. Healy rightly points out that this is highly inefficient. The question is less one of intelligence and more one of maturity and children mature at very different rates. Some very intelligent children are not ready to read until 8, 9 or even later.

Everything I've read has brought me to the conclusion that the best things I can do for my daughter are to read to her as much as possible and to help her develop and practice appropriate fine and gross motor skills. I was surprised to learn that good spelling has its earliest roots in the ability to clearly hear and distinguish different phonemes, rather than in visual text processing.

Sorry if this sounds preachy, but I just finished a big debate with a friend about the appropriateness of early academics... and was shocked to find out that my niece is being taught (and graded on!!!) reading in kindergarten... so I'm still a bit hot under the collar. :/

Underlying all this is my insecurity about how to handle dd's interest in letters. She lets me know in no uncertain terms that when she points at a letter she want's to know its name NOW. I know I should follow my own advice and respect her inner drive... but it just seems too soon.
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#4 of 6 Old 03-16-2003, 10:59 PM
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I have a child born 11/99 and she is on the same page as yours as far as numbers and letters. I have no interest in teaching her any academics or to write, she likes to draw and paint and play and that IMHO is enough. I just don't think my daughter is missing out on anything by not being able to recite some rote memory of letternames or picking up writing before having the fine motor skills that come usually later. My oldest son was academically way ahead when he was that age. It has turned out that in the long run for him - I wished he would have spent more time playing outside or learning life skills instead of nose in a book. SO I am very happy with my daughter and have no concerns as far as academics, she is very bright and when she is ready will pick up the pencil to write on her own. Meanwhile I am enjoying watching her play. I know it is hard not to compare your children to others, but every child is so different and the one that you may think is ahead of her academically may not be developing the social skills or the emotional advantages of having physical play instead of sitting at a table- so I feel like my child is actually ahead by having the freedom to develop her skills when she wants to. I have found that if you wait for when the child is ready, the child will pick up the skill quickly and be more motivated, also as far as reading they will retain more that way too. Are the moms of these peers kind of competitive? Maybe making some comments or wanting to know what you do with your child? Please don't feel insecure about your child's academic future based on their performance at this age, just enjoy her. Do you have some goals written out for her? that is also a way to see where you are at as a hsing mom. DO you want her to be a four yr old reading and writing or do you think it is okay for her to learn to read and write when she is at 'school age'? Are you planning on her going to an academic Kndgn or one where that is most children's first school experience?
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#5 of 6 Old 03-17-2003, 06:02 AM
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Hi, and welcome! It can be so hard not to compare our little ones with other people's children. Especially with our first children, it's difficult to know what's "normal" and what "behind" is. I have extensive experience working with preschoolers and what you're describing for your dd sounds completely normal - wonderful!

My dd is 6 and is now reading at a at a solid second grade level, but didn't learn her letters, or how to write her name until she was 5. My ds knew the alphabet at 18 months, loved listening to chapter books with no pictures at 4, and could write his name at 4. He learned to read when he was 8. Both of them are very bright, curious, creative kids who are developing at their own rates.

I'll tell ya, when my ds was 5, he had a friend, also 5, who could read everything: the newspaper, adult magazines, books, etc. completely fluently. I felt kinda envious at the time. Then I realized that my husband was a "late" reader, and I was an "early" reader, and guess what? We both read well now - reading early or late didn't make any difference at all in the long run!

Hindsight is 20/20

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#6 of 6 Old 03-17-2003, 01:53 PM
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You know, OT here, my husband learned to read in second grade, my mil has told me the story. He had to stay in every recess to be tutored at school. He never reads now and has trouble reading a kid's book to our kids kind of pushes his way through without any inflection or rhythm KWIM?? never picks up even a magazine or newspaper unless to see the sale at best buy He is a really smart man and had a double major in college in economics / computer science, he is highly sought after to do work. Just got really turned off reading by being forced, sees it as a punishment or neccesity to do his work (manuals). I must read a novel every other day, suck up the magazines like crazy, take kids to library each week and we enjoy it so much. I do not push my children into reading because I want them to have the experience of wanting to read something, enjoying the story they choose. I have always felt sad for my dh he has no desire to read the latest sci fi book, Tom Clancey novel, or something I am reading so that we can talk about it, the story line or charactors, in the way we talk over movies and things we have we have seen together. When the kids -ask- for barnes and noble gift certificates as presents he thinks it is wierd still that they are into that so much the older boys would rather have that then a game.
Mary sorry about OTing your thread
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