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So apparently my sister has decided she is going to teach my son to read when we visit them this month. For the record, my son is 4 years old and we are visiting for 3 days. Granted, my family doesn't get the whole unschooling thing at all and my mom still talks to me about finding a school for DS even though I've told her we are homeschooling who knows how many times. But even without my feelings about schooling and learning to read, why would someone try to teach a 4 year old to learn how to read in 3 days time?<br><br>
Not to mention that DS is well on his way in the process completely on his own. He knows his letters, points out letters constantly, asks about words all the time, he can write letters, he can write his name on his own, etc. All of this just because he wants to. All we've ever done is read to him, answer his questions and sing the alphabet song with him whenever he asks.<br><br>
And of course my sister didn't even tell me about her plans, she told my mom who told me (and she thinks it is cute or something). My sister has an MLS with a focus on children's literature so I guess she is an expert (even though she has never actually worked in that field, finished her degree a year ago and is just now starting to work in a library part time, not as a librarian either). My sister and I are not very close, and she is not close to my children either, so I have no idea why she has suddenly made it her personal goal to teach my child to read but honestly it just ticks me off. I told my mom no and that there was no reason to pressure a 4 year old with learning to read or anything school related, he is doing just fine on his own and I don't want her teaching him to read. I said she can read to him (and my DD who is 8 months) all she wants, but she's not going to teach him to read. I'm sure we'll talk about it more when we get there but I am just so frustrated right now. I wish my family could just accept what we are doing with our children. I've barely even mentioned unschooling because they can't even seem to accept the idea of homeschooling.
 

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Awesome! Maybe next year she will teach him calculus. Why does she feel it is her business to teach your charge? Weird. I hope you can find some resolution there.
 

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Well, she sounds obnoxious! I would be ticked off too. Four seems early to be pushing for reading instruction and it's none of her business. I think your suggestion of her reading <i>to</i> him is a good one. Maybe that would help her feel involved without her sabotaging anything.<br><br>
Your son sounds like he's around the same level as my DD was at that age. In our case, anytime we tried to push DD at all (especially to read aloud or such) she'd shut down. We learned early on that she would set her own pace. She is now six, wants to go to the library all the time and reads long novels with no pictures. Some people have tried to give me credit for this. But all we did was read to her often and answer her questions.
 

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I've had to make it clear to 'helpful' family members that if they can't respect our parenting choices then they can't be trusted to be alone with our kids. Period. It's difficult and has created family drama but I'm their mother- if I don't stick up for my kids who will?
 

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<div>Originally Posted by <strong>SundayCrepes</strong> <a href="/community/forum/post/15365152"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">I would not leave your sister and son alone together.</div>
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It sounds like she doesn't know anything at all about children, and thinks teaching a child to read would be like teaching a dog a new trick. Unschooling aside, this would be a weird and obnoxious thing to do with someone else's child, unless the parent specifically requested it.<br><br>
Will you and your sister be staying in the same house? If so, I would talk to her and your mom, and might be ready to cancel the trip if my sister didn't take my concerns seriously. I wouldn't say anything about unschooling, just tell her that teaching a 4 year old to read is nuts and possibly harmful (I have research to back this up, if you're interested), and my children are not her research subjects/toys. Let your mom know that her time with her grandchildren hinges on her keeping sister in line. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/irked.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="irked">
 

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I disagree with the PPs. It doesn't sound like you fear for your child's safety, so leaving your son with his aunt for a bit won't be detrimental. Who knows? Maybe they will form a bond all their own that they both like, different from your relationship with your sister.<br><br>
As for the reading, well, if your son is ready to learn then he will (if he does learn, so much the better! Cool for him!). If he isn't, then he won't, and your sister will realize that soon enough. And, honestly, teaching a child to read in 3 days (especially when he has other things to do) is a tad optimistic. And one more thing, you don't really know the spirit in which your sister said this. This is hearsay from your mom. Your sister could have been joking, she could have realized that teaching a child to read in 3 days is silly, who knows HOW she said it. And who knows what she has in mind. She could just envision reading stories to him while pointing out the letters, not a 72 hour immersion course. Having a knee jerk reaction could damage the relationship you have with your sister and your children have with their aunt.<br><br>
I suspect you're hurt by the criticism you've inferred from your mother's comment about your teaching methods more than you're scared that your sister will scar your child, or actually teach him to read.<br><br>
Just my two cents. Enjoy the visit with your family!
 

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Frankly, I'd let her have at it.<br><br>
Then maybe they won't have quite as much to say when the plan doesn't work out like they expect.<br><br>
My DD would love the extra attention. And it wouldn't hurt to be able to laugh every year about how sis thought she could teach her to read in 3 days HAHAHAHAHA!!!
 

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<div>Originally Posted by <strong>Annie Mac</strong> <a href="/community/forum/post/15365851"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">It doesn't sound like you fear for your child's safety, so leaving your son with his aunt for a bit won't be detrimental.</div>
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That really depends. If she coerces him to sit at a table and do activities he doesn't want to do, refuses to let him leave when he asks, and tells him she's helping him learn to read she could seriously dampen his desire for actual reading.<br><br>
We made the mistake to take DS to ONE thirty minute guitar lesson last year. Before that lesson he picked up and strummed his guitar almost every day, 'wrote' songs, performed concerts in the living room, and just generally loved the guitar. Since that lesson where the instructor told him he had to start with finger placement and that if if he didn't practice every day then he must really not be interested in guitar he hasn't even looked at a guitar. A similar thing happened when well meaning friends took him to the golf course- his love for golf just died when they started correcting his swing. I'm sure at some point those things might have been helpful but he wasn't ready for them so they were harmful to his spirit and desire for those activities.<br><br>
So I think that coercive tactics, even for a short period could absolutely be detrimental especially since the desire is already there- it could be squashed for a long time by well-meaning 'help'. IMHO if his aunt truly wants a relationship with him it will be on his four-year-old terms.
 

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Your sister sounds utterly adorable in that she thinks she can randomly teach a 4yo to read in 3 days. I think you should let her go wild, personally. I pretty much guarantee you she'll completely lose interest within 10 minutes... which is about how long it will take her to see that whichever magazine article it was that led her to this utterly brilliant idea was written by someone who had never met a preschooler.<br><br>
I have a MLS, and trust me... they don't teach you anything about teaching kids how to read. Your sister sounds young and naive and bored. Which should make this kind of funny to watch.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
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<div>Originally Posted by <strong>lach</strong> <a href="/community/forum/post/15366262"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">I have a MLS, and trust me... they don't teach you anything about teaching kids how to read. Your sister sounds young and naive and bored. Which should make this kind of funny to watch.</div>
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Yeah, I think you pretty much hit the nail on the head there. She apparently wrote some amazing paper while she was working on her degree about teaching children to read, and her professor raved over it and told her it should be published. I remember her explaining it to me once, some theory about how children should be introduced only to uppercase letters first because showing them text with mixed upper and lowercase would be confusing. I'm sure it is more involved than that and she was very excited about it, but at the time I remember thinking inside how impractical and ridiculous it was. I feel like she is excited that he is finally old enough for her to practice her methods on him (not that she came up with this, I know it comes from somewhere else but she's very gung-ho about the whole thing I guess). Anyway, because of this paper she wrote I think she does feel like she is somewhat of an expert in teaching children to read, even though she has no practical experience at all.<br><br>
I'm not afraid for his safety or anything like that, but I do think the way she would teach him to read would be bad enough that I wouldn't want to expose him to it. I don't know how to explain it, but the best example I can give is that last summer we visited and my son was getting into something he wasn't supposed to do at their house, climbing furniture and grabbing something, and I came over to him to gently deal with the situation (which was not a big deal at all, they just have a house that isn't very child friendly and he's pretty rambunctious) and out of nowhere she came over and snatched a toy car out of his hand and put it up on a high shelf as punishment for climbing on the couch--which of course resulted in a total meltdown from him, understandably so since he had no idea why his auntie would snatch away his toy and yell at him. It was totally inappropriate, not only because we don't do punishments, and even if we did her punishment didn't make sense, and even if it did she didn't explain it to him at all...and to top it all off why would she think it is okay for her to discipline my child, especially when I am standing right there and dealing with the situation (though I guess not fast enough for her tastes :roll). I don't come from a family with a lot of experience in gentle discipline or child led-learning/discipline so I shouldn't be surprised.<br><br>
Anyway, there is more involved but I'm guessing most of you can see from that example why I have learned to just put my foot down and not even allow her the chance to try and teach him to read (even though I can imagine how humorous it could be to watch). And I guess there is some fear that she would be coercive or punitive about it. Mostly I see her being utterly frustrated that he won't even sit still or listen to her, and when she tries to get him to listen he'll just starting singing nonsense words and doing somersaults across the floor or something.<br><br>
I can also see him doing what he did to his Grandma (who was a preschool teacher for 30 years) which was really fun to watch. She was trying to gently encourage him to learn his letters, which he already knew but she didn't realize that and he didn't let on. He totally played her, getting her to repeat things over and over and asking her the same questions again and again, all about things he knew. She ate it up and thought it was so great. Later on in the game when he got tired of it and started reading off all of the letters out of nowhere, she was SO amazed that he could suddenly "read" and we were saying, "Um, yeah, he knew all that this whole time and was just messing with you." <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/lol.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="lol"> But my MIL is far more patient than my sister would be in that situation so I don't think the situation would play out quite as nicely.
 

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<div>Originally Posted by <strong>Annie Mac</strong> <a href="/community/forum/post/15365851"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">Maybe they will form a bond all their own that they both like, different from your relationship with your sister.!</div>
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This is my thoughts on this as well... it's only a few days, and if your son has fun with it, which you never know, he might!, then why not? Of course it's completely up to your son. I've always been surprised at my kids how they can relate to others in very different ways and sometimes they are even very sensitive to a situation where they recognize they will get more interaction and they don't mind the trade off... as long as they know everything is on their terms. For me a big part of unschooling is avoiding attempting to exert too much control over my children's lives, so I let them make their own decisions as much as possible... as long as safety isn't a concern it's all good and I don't get in a fuss about it until/unless they do and most of the time they don't!<br><br>
I can understand your hesitation because of the violent toy stealing (argh!) incident, but I'd wait to get worried about it until you actually need to act... it might be a good thing. It's definitely a situation I think that comes up a lot as a homeschooler that family members and friends will think, oh boy, I've got to teach this kid something... but more often than not it's actually been kind of nice for the kids ultimately (again as long as it's always on their terms) and I've also found that even in situations where it isn't comfortable for my kids they are very good about standing up for themselves and saying no or 'I'm done', even at such a young age... also another element of unschooling I find important (I never wanted to create an environment where my children felt they couldn't say no or condition them to always accept any adult authority and comply... and that's probably the main reason why I don't worry about these situations because I know my kids can handle it, because they know they can... what I mean to say is that as awful as it feels from our perspective, especially since we are used to that feeling of being controlled and unable to speak up for ourselves at that age, it really isn't a big deal to our kids, even when they are expressing their anger and frustration it's from a place of empowerment, not subjugation -hope that makes sense!)
 

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I get your hesitation too, based on your description of your son. With my DD, no problems - my DD wouldn't learn to read in 3 days but she'd love the attention and who knows, she might actually learn a thing or two. And certainly your sister would.<br><br>
But a kid who is turned off by instruction - yeah, I'd try to keep him busy. And if sis whipped out the books I'd just tell her "hey, sis, thanks but he REALLY isn't ready for this" or something, and be firm about it when she protests. You're the mama. Your kid isn't her science experiment. If she makes a big deal, remind her that it's HER making the big deal, not you, this is your kid, and she's welcome to find another kid to teach to read.
 

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I agree with <b>joyseeker.</b> The damage that could be done to his love of learning, by introducing coercion to it....I would run in the opposite direction with your son as fast as possible. Because once that self-belief, that joy of learning, acquiring what you need to know freely, with the excitement that goes along with it--once that is gone you won't get it back. That's my opinion anyway. Tell her thanks but no thanks. There is too much at stake. And it's disrespectful anyway. At age four there is ZERO reason to think he won't be reading "on time," whatever "on time" means anyway. :)
 

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<div>Originally Posted by <strong>NellieKatz</strong> <a href="/community/forum/post/15367412"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">I agree with <b>joyseeker.</b> The damage that could be done to his love of learning, by introducing coercion to it....I would run in the opposite direction with your son as fast as possible. Because once that self-belief, that joy of learning, acquiring what you need to know freely, with the excitement that goes along with it--once that is gone you won't get it back. That's my opinion anyway. Tell her thanks but no thanks. There is too much at stake. And it's disrespectful anyway. At age four there is ZERO reason to think he won't be reading "on time," whatever "on time" means anyway. :)</div>
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Ditto. I hear all of you saying this could be fun, or funny or a lesson for the sister and think it's great to have an open mind on this. But the effect on the child could be huge, in a negative way, or not, you wouldn't know until you try. Why risk it? Why allow this lunacy-of-the-sister to continue if it can be stopped? Sorry, I've just had experiences like joyseekers, and it did hurt my kids learning.<br><br>
Sorry this is how your holiday is being hijacked. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/irked.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="irked">
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Thanks for the replies everyone. I do think this is one of those things that could either just let it go and it won't happen anyway so we can all laugh it off, but I can also see it being a really negative experience for my DS. And there is already enough weirdness between my sister and I that I feel it is one of those situations where I have to set firm boundaries, also for the sake of my relationship with my mom. My mom just has a tendency to make excuses for her behavior even when it is really awful, and it has caused some resentment towards my mom, especially when the behavior involves my children in some way. I hate that family stuff has to be so complicated <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/greensad.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="greensad"><br><br>
Also, a little confession on my part. I think part of me not wanting my sister to teach him to read is a point of pride. I just know that DS is soooo close to being there (though I'm also open to the possibility that he could take a few years to take the next step on his own) that if by some chance he did learn to read while my sister was working with him on it, for the next 20 years all I'll hear about is how my sister taught him to read. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="/img/vbsmilies/smilies/eyesroll.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="roll"> And once DS gets to school age when my mom will probably increase the comments on school, I know I'll hear it all the time that my sister had to be the one to teach him to read and homeschooling/unschooling isn't going to work, etc. Not that it would change my opinion or our choices, but I already get really frustrated with the comments so I can imagine that once he is 5 or 6 and my mom still expects him to be in school it will be even worse to hear about how my sister taught him to read. I guess I feel like he is doing so well in this area naturally, it will be a good way to show my mom that unschooling does work and will work for our family and that he doesn't need school or need to be taught these things.
 

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<div>Originally Posted by <strong>railyuh</strong> <a href="/community/forum/post/15374414"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">And there is already enough weirdness between my sister and I that I feel it is one of those situations where I have to set firm boundaries...</div>
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<span>I had that sense, and I think this concern is important for you to honor.<br><br></span>
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<table border="0" cellpadding="6" cellspacing="0" width="99%"><tr><td class="alt2" style="border:1px inset;">I just know that DS is soooo close to being there (though I'm also open to the possibility that he could take a few years to take the next step on his own) that if by some chance he did learn to read while my sister was working with him on it, for the next 20 years all I'll hear about is how my sister taught him to read. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="/img/vbsmilies/smilies/eyesroll.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="roll"></td>
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<span>That's something that occurred to me too. It's your territory she wants to move into without consulting you, and you have every right to say no. This kind of thing probably goes way back, but this is going too far.<br><br></span>
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<table border="0" cellpadding="6" cellspacing="0" width="99%"><tr><td class="alt2" style="border:1px inset;">And once DS gets to school age when my mom will probably increase the comments on school, I know I'll hear it all the time that my sister had to be the one to teach him to read and homeschooling/unschooling isn't going to work, etc.</td>
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<span>Well, then you would definitely be wise to just firmly but calmly and confidently brush off the idea of your sister's participation/interference. You can tell them you have it in hand, he's doing very well, and that you intend for it to progress in a certain manner and time - and that no one is to interfere with the schedule you have in mind for <i>your child who is not even school age yet!</i> I really wouldn't use the word "unschooling" with them, though - there's absolutely no reason to label what you're doing, and it can be a little like waving a flag in front of a bull.<br><br>
Lillian<br></span>
 

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<div>Originally Posted by <strong>railyuh</strong> <a href="/community/forum/post/15364970"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">So apparently my sister has decided she is going to teach my son to read when we visit them this month. For the record, my son is 4 years old and we are visiting for 3 days.</div>
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Seriously? She thinks she can teach him to read in 3 days? I wouldn't let her come near my kid with a 10 foot pole.
 

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<img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/mischievous.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="mischief">: Too bad you can't teach your ds to say "I've been told you want to teach me to read auntie. While I appreciate that you have a professional interest in literacy, I would prefer to spend our time together in developmentally appropriate interactions that will increase our familial bonds."<br><br>
Of course, "auntie X, look at my TRAIN!!" means pretty much the same thing. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/orngbiggrin.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="orange big grin">
 

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And you read to your ds, right? So her method doesn't have a chance, he's already seen lowercase letters.<br><br>
Interestingly, in Montessori, they start with lower case letters specifically because those are so much more common in print.<br><br>
And really, if you were going to do deliberately alphabet teaching, lower case letters makes more sense.<br><br>
Easier to figure out that the first squiggle is an "A" when you know how to read "pple" than to figure out the other four squiggles that come after "A".
 
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