PS Mom needs advice re HS SIL - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 13 Old 04-16-2003, 11:07 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I send my kids to PS. I think HS is really great for kids but just but wouldn't work for me and my kids. MY SIL home schools and I am just in awe of what a great techer she is of her DS age 4 and DD age 9. These are great kids, so curious about the world etc...

There is one thing though, my niece age 9 can't read. My SIL always has said that her DD will read when she is ready. But my whole family is somewhat concerned (her parents are just aghast at the whole HS thing so are prejudiced to start with.)

Anyway, at my DD recent family birthday celebration (she is 6) she got a book from my MIL. (My kids are early readers thanks to not one thing I did, they just started reading one day when they were between 4 and 5.) DD started reading the book out loud (it was a fairly hard book, maybe 3d grade level) and my niece got this really pained look on her face and ran out of the room crying.
My SIL is angry at all of us and thinks my MIL (her MIL also, she is married to my BIL) planned this with us to upset her DD, which I don't think is true about my MIL and certainly neither I or my DD knew anything about this.

So, my question is (sorry this is so long) what should I say to my SIL. Is it OK that her DD is not reading. My SIL still insists that every child will learn to read when ready. I think this is prob true, but wonder if my SIL has to fight so much to prove HS is ok that she would be afraid to admit there was any issue with her DD. (Even though she very well might be not reading in PS)

Any advice about this whole situation would be welcome.

Thank YOU, you HS's are awesome moms!
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#2 of 13 Old 04-16-2003, 11:29 AM
 
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Since I don't know your family, anything I post will just be guessing. But, I tend to agree with your SIL. Kids will read (barring some major learning or sight problem) when they are ready. My own dd was what would be considered a "late reader".

Is it possible that her dd has overheard, or been told my MIL that her inability to read is a problem?? That could be why she ran from the room. Kids pick up hidden agendas pretty well. The confidence that she will do it, when she is ready would help her so much. Is shaming used in the family (not specifically the mom, but extended family) to get people to do things?

I can tell you I had heated discussions with my own mother about my dds reading. Luckily my mom lives out of state, so they didn't happen often, or in front of dd. Your SIL needs support. Your supporting her to MIL could really help. At least it could ease the pressure.
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#3 of 13 Old 04-16-2003, 11:34 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I don't think anything was said to my niece but I'm sure she could have picked up on my MIL's disapproval of HS'ing.

My niece is also the oldest cousin and really thinks of 6 y.o. DD as a "baby" She doesn't like when DD can do anything that she can't (she got very upet when DD turned out to be a better hoola hooper). So this might be part of it also.
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#4 of 13 Old 04-16-2003, 11:45 AM
 
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Wow, i agree kids will read when ready but if you niece is showing a desire to read thenperhaps you SIL would be willing to work with her. She probably feels at this point she has to prove herself correct. It is so easy to get cought upo in that.

You and your dd have no need to feel bad. She didn't do anything wrong and it is great that she is excited by reading. That most assuredly shouldn't be squelched. I am sure she was embarrassed to be upstaged by a six year old. If her mom is going to not teach her to read and instead wait until she picks it up then she has to take responsibility for it and deal with the fall out from it. Perhaps you can mention to her that you are sorry her dd was so upset but that noone, not even family are going to wait around for her to catch up. And that she seemed really sensitive about not being able to read and that she is probably ready for a little instruction, would probably pickit fast., such a bright girl, blah, blah, blah,

it would be different if the child were confident in waiting, was happy waiting etc. . . but she obviously isn't. This is one reason we tought dd to read when we did. We just thought she owuld appreciate the skill at an earlier age rather than a later one. One way isn't nessecarily better than theother. Some things work for some kids other things work for other kids.

The truest answer to violence is love. The truest answer to death is life. The only prevention for violence is for the heart to have no violence within it.  We cannot prevent evil through any system devised by mankind. But we can grapple with evil and defeat it, but only with love—real love.

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#5 of 13 Old 04-16-2003, 12:43 PM
 
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Is it OK that her DD is not reading.
YES, the child is normal, however I am wondering why she cried watching her cousin read??? Seems to be more to the situation then stated, my kids could care less about their cousins reading levels, older or younger. Did someone say something to her while the other child was reading??? I am a former reading teacher in the public schools - do not worry about the child's reading- she will read when ready.. What I would do, go over and give sil a hug in person, do not bring your child with you. Tell her you had no part in planning something hurtful for her dd.
For your sil to suspect mil to be up to something, IME seems to open the idea that mil is totally not supportive of the homeschooling. My mil no longer has open access to our kids and some of the antics she has pulled are frankly unbelieveable & my sils would not grasp how hurtful it has been to my kids to have their grandma make little digs constantly to me in front of them about our homeschooling. She constantly compares my kids to the other grandchildren and it stinks. Your mil has a competition going between her granddaughters that is unhealthy. Your sil is going to have to figure out a way to deal with it and I do not think it has to do with teaching reading, it has more to do with self esteem and feeling loved by Grandma for who you are - not what you can do.
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if my SIL has to fight so much to prove HS is ok that she would be afraid to admit there was any issue with her DD
maybe but more likely she knows the benefits to allowing children to learn on their own timetable. She sounds like a loving mama in tune with her child or she would not have gotten so angry. I am sorry that your child's birthday party was upset by the other child crying. Does your dd understand why her cousins feelings were hurt?
Again, I would go to my sil and say I am really sorry that ---child--- was upset during dd's bday party. I had no idea what mil was giving as a present and I would never knowingly hurt niece. Then let it go. I wouldn't get into a discussion about homeschooling.
This situation is not about reading IMHO it is about mil / granddaughter dynamics that are unhealthy and that foster scenes of competition between the kids. I hope the child's father steps up and helps his daughter and his mother to find a way to heal.
Forgive me if I seem off about this, this hits really close to home.
Mary
mom to ds 14, ds9, ds6, dd 3yrs all homeschooled
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#6 of 13 Old 04-16-2003, 01:04 PM
 
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dynamics thing
and as a past person the end target of a setup I would feel just like your sil

and as for the reading thing I know a boy who didn't learn to read until he was 11. And he is a very intelligent child and successful unschooler
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#7 of 13 Old 04-16-2003, 01:29 PM - Thread Starter
 
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My niece just seems by nature to be competitive. Most of the times its great. She swims competitively and loves that. But she is just the kind of person who is really aware of what everyone else can do. And like I said, she really thinks of 6 yo as a "baby" who shouldn't be able to do more than a 9 year old.

My DD did not feel her party was ruined. She is very easy going and is very careful not to hurt feelings. She was not even aware that niece could not read. She just felt confused. I just feel bad for my niece and my SIL. Since my kids read early and since it seems like ps really pushes every kid to read by the time they are 8, I just didn't know if NOt reading at age 9 would indicate a problem or not.


I guess I kind of think that maybe there is a problem. One thing I notice about my niece is that she does not seem to be able to rhyme (we were playing a game in the car one day and it was clear she couldn't do this.) I have heard that this can indicate a problem but I don't feel educated enough to really know.

I figured maybe you HS mama's would have a better idea about this.
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#8 of 13 Old 04-16-2003, 01:54 PM
 
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lilyka;
I don't think it was stated anywhere that SIL wasn't working with her daughter. I am sure that she has. Some kids are just not developementally ready at the standard time.I agree with Vanna's mom, in that a hug to your SIL without your child being present would be great. A show of support will do so much good! I also think that the family dynamics with the grandma are unhealthy. Competition for whatever reason isn't the best. Let us know how it goes!
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#9 of 13 Old 04-16-2003, 02:47 PM
 
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I have no doubt this child is aware that some of her family thinks she has an academic problem and hsing has somehow caused or played a role in her succeeding in reading. My four kids have all began to learn to read at very different ages from age 2 - 8. It really is no indication of future academic ability to be able to read before first grade. Plenty of research has been done on this.
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I guess I kind of think that maybe there is a problem.
Many many kids do not begin reading till they are nine, this is not out of the range of normal. If the mother has not expressed concerned and asked for your opinion, I would lay off and let this go.
some reading that may help you -
Better Late Than Early: A New Approach to Your Child's Education
by Raymond S. Moore, Dennis R. Moore, Dorothy N. Moore
a quote from Dr Moore - "Late readers are no more likely to be retarded or disabled than early ones. They often become the best readers of all-with undamaged vision and acute hearing, more adult-like reasoning (cognition) levels, mature brain structure and less blocking of creative interests. Yet late readers are often falsely thought to be in need of remedial help."
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#10 of 13 Old 04-16-2003, 03:25 PM
 
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In Sweden, it is ILLEGAL to *teach* a child to read before they turn 7. Along those lines, I don't think 9 is that late. I do, however, think that your SIL should maybe do some type of exercises that would help determine if it is some type of learning disorder as long as the activity didn't make her feel like she is 'behind'.

Good luck!

Peace.
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#11 of 13 Old 04-17-2003, 02:25 PM
 
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I agree with those who say that it is perfectly normal not to be able to read at 9 or later. Those who are in school and would have read late and have been pushed into reading early, are most likely the very same children who hate reading. Those who are allowed to do it in their own time are far more likely to enjoy it.

It is a shame for your niece that she feels so competitive, but in some ways it might help. I know a number of younger children who just wouldn't use the potty but did when they saw their friends or relatives doing it. Perhaps this sense of competition will work like this for your niece. Perhaps this situation will be what makes your niece decide for herself that she is ready to read. But perhaps not.

It sounds like your SIL is doing a great job, in general, and like there may be some hidden tensions between her family and your MIL that you might not be privy to. I don't think there was anything wrong in your MIL giving your daughter a book (I think that is always a great present!), and I think your SIL probably overreacted a bit there (why shouldn't your daughter get books for her birthday and why shouldn't she read them?), but I would guess that is a touchy area for her. No matter how strongly one believes in something, it is always difficult to have family doubt you.

I disagree strongly that you should use this opportunity to hint that your SIL should give her daughter instruction. I don't think it's necessary, and it is obvious that is not what your SIL wants to hear. Instead, I would personally suggest talking to and being open to your SIL, asking her if she has books or articles to recommend, checking out the books Vanna's Mom recommends, looking them over, and if possible discussing what you learn with your MIL.

I am sure your SIL would appreciate your being open and non-judgmental and would certainly appreciate your being an ally if you come to the conclusion that she is doing the right thing.
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#12 of 13 Old 04-17-2003, 03:05 PM
 
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Even if your neice has a "learning disability", she may not need any "special services". I have a friend whose 4 unschooled children were all "learning disabled". They all learned to read around the age of 12, and went straight to adult-level reading. The oldest is now 17, and is making straight A's in her community college classes in preparation for a 4-year college. So even if your neice takes a few more years to get reading, it doesn't mean that she will not be able to catch up very quickly.
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#13 of 13 Old 04-18-2003, 07:17 AM
 
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I agree with the other posters who have said that not reading at 9 can be very normal for some kids, especially if their parents or teachers believe in allowing them to discover reading for themselves rather than teaching them through a phonics course or other methods.

I have also heard so many stories of unsupportive grandparents "testing" their hsed grandchildren (i.e. handing them a book and asking them to read it when the child doesn't read yet), that I can't help wondering if there isn't something going on there. If MIL is really opposed to hsing, I think a 9 y.o. would have picked up on that. In fact, if MIL makes comments that she thinks the granddaughter wouldn't pick up on or understand, the child's feelings may be even more confusing. And, right or wrong, your SIL believes the event was staged to make SIL feel bad (if not her daughter), so your niece is likely to pick up on that emotional undercurrent even if no one voices it.

I think the best advice would be to offer support as some others suggested, just saying that you are sorry her daughter was upset. After things have cooled, you may want to have another discussion where you say that you don't want to be hurtful but do want your child to feel like she can read aloud around the extended family if that is something she enjoys doing.

I wouldn't offer advice on teaching reading or anything unless you and your sil have some much deeper exchanges about her philosophy and where she's coming from. Honestly, I can't think of a way for you to broach the subject without it feeling disrespectful of the probably substantial thought and research your SIL has put into her decision. And I'm someone who does plan to teach my children to read earlier that that, I just understand the arguments for waiting.

Your niece does not deserve to be protected from the knowledge that cousins younger than she is can read. She and your SIL do deserve to be treated with respect. They deserve to feel that while not all family members agree with their choices, they will not use manipulative techniques and snide comments to make them feel bad about those choices.

Sherri
Mom to Daniel (10-10-2000) and another coming soon (but hopefully not before I get that second car seat installed!)
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