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#31 of 49 Old 01-23-2007, 03:20 PM
 
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Is there a psychological advantage to reading early? I don't know -- maybe. I'm responding to Lillian's post above.
I don't think I said anything about psychological advantages one way or another - I think someone else asked the question, but I can't find it anywhere... - Lillian
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#32 of 49 Old 01-23-2007, 03:42 PM
 
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I don't think I said anything about psychological advantages one way or another - I think someone else asked the question, but I can't find it anywhere... - Lillian
No, no no -- sorry. I was wondering "out loud." You didn't say there was a psychological benefit (or none) to reading early. I was reflecting based on what you had written.

I mentioned I hadn't had my coffee yet, right? Sorry for the confusion.
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#33 of 49 Old 01-23-2007, 03:44 PM
 
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Redwine...dd1 has a different way of going about it. She also has an insatiable desire to learn. She sees patterns and colors. She hears music. Really hears it. (I'm a singer, so I do get that one.) She sets up a sort of "unit studies" approach for herself. She knows the children's librarians and uses their skills to find books on subjects that interest her. She asks me to get materials to support what she's learning.

She doesn't read fluently, but that sure doesn't slow her down.

I didn't learn phonics to learn to read. My experience was that I was holding a hymnal and suddenly realized that I could read the words. I didn't learn to "sound out" words until it was required at school. I just read. It was magic as far as I know.

My parents read to me, but I'm the second oldest of 6 children born in 8 years, so trust me, there weren't foam letter games, etc.

Some kids just read earlier. Some, even profoundly gifted kids to use the lingo, learn in other ways. I feel like my job at ages 6 and 2 is to provide a range of materials and pay attention to the cues my kids are giving me.

I'll be surprised if my 2 year old makes it to three without reading. She insists on a couple of *hours* a day reading. She sits and stares at books. She can also hop on one foot already and has admirable fine motor skills. She started talking at 10 months, but is barely understandable.

But reading will come for both of them. Learning is not dependent on being able to read unless you don't have someone to read to you. Here, we'll pretty much drop anything to read or do a project. I honestly have no need for them to develop independence before they want it. dd2 is very interested in independence. dd1 not so much.

I have learned so very much just letting them lead, noticing them, talking to them, seeing what they see. If I had done flashcards or tried "instructing" them as toddlers, I really think we would have gone a very different road. My perspective from here is that they will have reading skills *and* this wonderful creative artist's eye on the world as well.
I agree with everything you've written. I think we are both following our children's cues, and therefore each one is naturally developing along their own individual path. Both your kids and mine have great mamas who are willing and able to help them however they want/need help.
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#34 of 49 Old 01-23-2007, 04:07 PM
 
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I mentioned I hadn't had my coffee yet, right?
Sitting her sipping my tea - have been off of coffee for a while, just have it occasionally as a yummy TREAT! Anyway, your conversation with CH got me to thinking, and I think I may be able to articulate something.

I have no criticism whatsover of anyone helping their children learn anything they want to learn at any age whatsoever. What bothers me, though, is that there are so many things to enjoy and learn about in this big world, and so many people these days are eagerly focused on reading being an important thing for their young children to learn - as if it's the thing. In the case of yours, I understand what you're saying - she's busy looking things up that she's interested in, and that's great. But a whole lot of people are thinking of it just as something that a child is supposed to do. And the earlier it happens, the more intelligent they feel their child is, and the better they feel their child will be able to do in college and life - which isn't so at all. Meanwhile, there are so many really wonderful and important things for the young child's age that go unrecognized as important - like free, imaginative play and wonder. We can't control our children's basic natures and drives - so much of it is built in - but I think we can at least back off on the craze to turn them into little mini-scholars instead of developing human beings who are just becoming acquainted with their bodies, homes, families, neighborhoods, nature, etc... - Lillian
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#35 of 49 Old 01-23-2007, 04:24 PM
 
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I'm from a family full of building school educators...here's what I think about this drive to get them reading earlier and earlier. It does make building school easier if you can read. The teachers accept that you are "smart." They lay off you.

When dd1 was only 1 my mom got on me to make sure she had an early bedtime because otherwise she'd have trouble when it came time for school.

The thing is, I think she's right. If you're going to send your kid to building school, it'll be a lot easier for them if they go to bed at 7 pm, follow a behavior modification plan and learn to read before pre-K....as many of my nieces and nephews did.

I think their parents did the right thing since their path was building school. It was when I had this conversation with my mom, that I decided that I didn't want my kids' needs subsumed into a need to "get them ready" for the next thing.

I think as school starts earlier and earlier (it's age 3 here), parents, wanting their kids to have a positive experience, encourage earlier and earlier reading.

I find that to be the joy of homeschooling. We can do what seems right to meet the kids where they are right now, without worrying about getting them ready for the next thing.
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#36 of 49 Old 01-23-2007, 04:41 PM
 
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If you're going to send your kid to building school, it'll be a lot easier for them if they go to bed at 7 pm, follow a behavior modification plan and learn to read before pre-K....as many of my nieces and nephews did.
Maybe...but it makes me cringe to think of it. My son went to school, and I never did a lot to accomodate it, but he did okay. We hated having to try to squish into the schools' routines, though, I must say. I remember one night when we were up to 11 p.m. (much later than usual) building a marshmallow and toothpick pyramid just because it was so much fun. He was tired in the morning, but it was worth it to just follow our passion that night - took it to school to show. That day when I picked him up, all these other first graders were coming out carrying one. It was surreal... Turned out the teacher had loved it and sent someone to the store to get toothpicks and marshmallows for everyone.

Rambling...

Have you read Alfie Kohn's article on "Getting Hit on the Head Lessons"? Lillian
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#37 of 49 Old 01-23-2007, 04:43 PM
 
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What a totally cool teacher!!!

The folks in my family that work in building schools are equally passionate about learning. They do a tremendous job and love it.
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#38 of 49 Old 01-23-2007, 04:58 PM
 
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What a totally cool teacher!!!
I guess it sounded that way, huh... But no, she had quite a bullying to her as well, unfortunately. But that's what drove us to homeschooling so early on, so I guess it was a blessing in disguise. - Lillian
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#39 of 49 Old 01-24-2007, 12:16 AM
 
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I have a younger daughter (22 months) who "reads" next to her sister, because she sees her sister reading and wants to do everything that she does. I have taken to going over some phonics with her every day. What does that mean? That once or twice a day I'll show her a big foam letter and make the appropriate sound in a silly way. She loves this and we do it together. Am I pushing her to read? I don't think so. Am I giving her tools to do eventually be able to do what her sister does? Yes. Do we have great fun going "AHHH" together loudly and ferociously while crawling around like an alligator, and then attacking the foam letter A? Yes, we sure do.

Will I care if she reads at 2 or 6? If her developmental process takes longer than her sister's, then so be it. Am I a pushy mom for going over phonics with her in a VERY play-based fashion? I dont' think so. I think what woud make me pushy is if she didn't find it interesting and I made her try to do it anyway...which is against my philosophy.


!
I read this this morning and I have been thinking about it all day. I completely understand the desire for kids to be proficient in reading. As was mentioned previously it really is seen as a measure of intelligence, and that pull is hard to ignore. And the way you describe introducing letters sounds totally fun, which if it is going to be done early is absolutely the only way to do it.

But, I still have lingering doubts. There has been much talk recently about valuing ( or re -valuing) play and giving children room to play. And, nobody seems to argue with this, but I fear most of the time we are just giving lip service to the idea of play. The way I see it, and as was evident in the wonderful article Lillian posted, using play to introduce phonics or math or whatever is taking the play away from children and appropriating it for adult purposes. We cannot really value play unless we are really able to see the kind of learning and developing that goes on when play is really unstructured and unappropriated. If we really believed that play is in and of itself important, then I think we would not feel compelled to replace the amazing world of child-directed play with our own overriding sense of what play should be teaching. There is a sort of mastery to unstructured play,of the self, and the will and the world that children cannot achieve when the play is planned by adults. And I think that lack of mastery lingers in ways that we do not yet fully understand.

Anyway, these are just thoughts that have been bumping around in my head all day.
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#40 of 49 Old 01-24-2007, 04:07 AM
 
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Since this thread has taken a different turn...

But I see people absolutely tripping over themselves trying to get their kids to read ASAP and I just don't understand the rush. It's almost like people think that if the kid reads earlier, they have the long-term advantage and that's just not true. Why is everyone in such a big rush to turn their little ones into readers? There are so many people that feel this way that there's a very lucrative industry profiting from it...Leapfrog and such. I just sincerely don't understand the desire to speed everything up. Sometimes a kid points to a letter and correctly says, "B" and that's all that is. Why do people seek out formal programs to hurry up and turn that into reading? I am not judging. I just don't understand it. I don't care when my kids read. If it's early, great. If it's typical, great. If it's late, great. All I really care about is that they love books and have good comprehension.
You know, before my son started K, I never worried much about it, either. We read together, and we were both fine with that. I was floored with the amount of work that K involved, including reading. And here I thought K was just to get the ball rolling!

In 1st grade they actually had a 1-1 resource teaching work with him during reading time because he was in the bottom "20%" of the class- most of whom were a year or so older than him. He advanced quickly, but after all the letters/calls/etc from the school, then I became paranoid about his reading! I think people are getting obsessed with it because we are lead to believe (through the media, schools, etc) that the only way not to have a totally illiterate child to have them reading Moby Dick by age 3! (This is an exaggeration, but ykwim.)

He did fine when he started 2nd grade, but then all the letters became about his writing! Not detailed enough, not neat enough, not long enough... and just before I became all upset about that and tried to force him into becoming a proficient writer at six, I thought, whoa, you know, maybe he's not ready! Ding ding ding!

Now we homeschool and take things more in stride.

But I would be untruthful if I didn't say I wish my ds had taken to reading like a fish to water. But he didn't, and now that I don't have "experts" calling me all the time telling me that certain doom awaits him if he can't do everything at the level they expect him to, I feel alot better.

Anyway, that kinda went on a little longer than planned, but I just wanted to explain how some of us do get sucked into this "earlier is better" mentality.

Mom, wife, full-time student.  And tired.  DH, DS#1 (9/99) and DS#2 (9/09), and 2 dogs.

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#41 of 49 Old 01-24-2007, 04:28 AM
 
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We cannot really value play unless we are really able to see the kind of learning and developing that goes on when play is really unstructured and unappropriated. If we really believed that play is in and of itself important, then I think we would not feel compelled to replace the amazing world of child-directed play with our own overriding sense of what play should be teaching. There is a sort of mastery to unstructured play,of the self, and the will and the world that children cannot achieve when the play is planned by adults. And I think that lack of mastery lingers in ways that we do not yet fully understand.

Anyway, these are just thoughts that have been bumping around in my head all day.
Wow - absolutely fascinating thoughts. I too think there's often a lot of lip service given to play where there isn't really so much depth of importance given to it - but this really thought provoking. - Lillian
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#42 of 49 Old 01-24-2007, 09:56 AM
 
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But I would be untruthful if I didn't say I wish my ds had taken to reading like a fish to water. But he didn't, and now that I don't have "experts" calling me all the time telling me that certain doom awaits him if he can't do everything at the level they expect him to, I feel alot better.

Anyway, that kinda went on a little longer than planned, but I just wanted to explain how some of us do get sucked into this "earlier is better" mentality.
Thank you for sharing this perspective. I sincerely appreciate it. I'm so sorry that you guys went through that. It's crazy that school expects all children to learn at the same level, at the same time and in the same order! It's just illogical. again.
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#43 of 49 Old 01-24-2007, 10:02 AM
 
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Wow - absolutely fascinating thoughts. I too think there's often a lot of lip service given to play where there isn't really so much depth of importance given to it - but this really thought provoking. - Lillian
I also wholeheartedly agree with what Jessica said about unstructured play. When I sit, out of sight, and quietly watch my kids play, I'm struck by how intricate their game is and how they cycle through things like: inventing (a problem), brainstorming solutions, arguing over solutions in brainstorming but working out a consensus, and then actively solving the problem. It's very innocent looking, but if you analyze it, it's very mental. At times where I've attempted to enter the game, with good intentions, my creative contribution seemed so one-dimensional compared to what they had going on. And then the play dynamic seemed like some of the wind was taken out of the sails.

In my former work life, I was a curriculum developer and instructor for a software company (i.e. for adults). The biggest problems I repeatedly faced with colleagues was lack of imagination, lack of self-motivation and difficulty in seeing abstractions. I'm convinced that free play nurtures all three of these things, so it's educational IMHO.
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#44 of 49 Old 01-24-2007, 10:45 AM
 
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Play- so you might say that play is vital to learning right?

I left my job at a fantastic daycare center over the new assessment format they wanted us to follow. While I agree with doing some assessment, I tend to agree that it pushes teachers to begin structuring play more than they normally would. Suddenly you pull out toys becuase it teaches a skill rather than pulling out the toy becuase you heard the kids talking about it.

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#45 of 49 Old 01-24-2007, 01:07 PM
 
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I love watching my son in unstructured play. Now, sometimes I'll run with his ideas and do some "schooling" with it, but I always give him time to do his thing. My dining room has it's own Lincoln Log/hotwheels track city in it right now!

Mom, wife, full-time student.  And tired.  DH, DS#1 (9/99) and DS#2 (9/09), and 2 dogs.

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#46 of 49 Old 01-24-2007, 01:25 PM
 
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In one of the articles I read (it may have been one that you posted Lillian) there was this story of a little boy who had created an elaborate game of postman using the back slats on a kitchen chair as his post office and pieces of paper. His Grandma then bought him a post office toy, and he never played the game again.

This image has been stuck in my head ever since I read the article. Once this game was no longer his he was unable to play it. I run across so many parents who tell me that their children simply cannot and will not play alone, and that they are always bugging the parents to play games with them or give them something to do. I think this is related to the increasing tendency for parents to try to "do" educational things and games with their kids at younger and younger ages. The kids seem to lose what ever that thing is inside them that enables them to initiate and follow through on their own ideas. As a former college professor, I can tell you that skills of independent thinking and initiating new ideas and following through on those ideas are very hard to "re-teach" to eighteen year olds.
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#47 of 49 Old 01-24-2007, 02:05 PM
 
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Play- so you might say that play is vital to learning right?
I've collected a number of articles to that effect. Take a browse through this page - preschool/kindergarten - the first two are by homeschoolers about homeschooling, but a lot of the others are by professional educators or researchers who have put a huge amount of time in with children, and they're all saying the same thing. Lillian
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#48 of 49 Old 01-24-2007, 03:47 PM
 
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Good point about buying the post office. I have a thing for toys, I love them, but my kids sure don't need them.

Today we went with our homeschool group to see an animal exhibit. We brought along a notebook and a camera. DD took pics of stuff she was interested in and drew 4-5 pictures of the animals she saw. She told her dad that she had made an "observation" about the animals and "I will write it down for you."
We have been playing (read dd5 and dd2) animals. Some animals have been to the vet, some live in a barn, some eat bugs. This was all dd's idea and we have just gone with it. We did view some animal cams on the web but we don't do alot with the internet.

Lillian- thanks for the links. have you always been interested in play?

I, as a learner, am researching play for a website. Right now, I am focusing on play and "smart toys". I wish there was better information for parents about smart toys and how they impact play but there is very little. I guess there isn't money for these type of studies becuase so many institutions do not value unstructured play.

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#49 of 49 Old 01-24-2007, 03:59 PM
 
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Lillian- thanks for the links. have you always been interested in play?
Interesting question. I guess so - or at least I've always been interested in the imagination, and the two things go hand in hand. And I think they're both essential in the style I paint in.

At one of our California homeschool conferences, Win and Bill Sweet, authors of Living Joyfully With Children, presented a workshop on "play" for adults - they find that adults have generally lost the ability to play, and need to actually be led into it.

On the run... - Lillian
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