Monday, November 5, 2007

But my kid is so smart!

My stepmom sent this to me. It's been bugging me all day, in that I feel frustrated and defensive but can't see why I should. I mean, I want to be like, "Dude I was reading at age 2 and I turned out great!" but that's the dumbest thing in the world to say. I was also formula-fed, and that doesn't mean that its OK just because I got lucky and didn't suffer any problems. I am the first person to research these types of thnigs, cosleeping, nursing, letting little kids be little and all that jazz. But I'm so freaking proud that Ben is so smart and that he is not even two and knows so many letters already: B, o, f, and sometimes a and n. We read to him all the time. Isn't that what ALL the experts say? Read to your kids? Chicka Chicka Boom Boom is like his favorite book on the planet. I mean, I'm all for creative art play and playdough and stuff.

I dunno. I think I'm feeling this discontent because she's probably right and I'm probably not going to change anything which is going to make me feel guilty in the long run. I guess.


Hi Suz,
I found the information about early vs later reading.  It basically has to do with where the child is developmentally.  Young children are very imaginative and think in pictures – if you cut this short by moving too soon to reading and other ‘left brain’ activities, then you start losing some of that lovely, imaginative quality to their lives.
What I have found is that parents should ‘follow’ their child, just like you did with breast-feeding; wait to ‘teach’ reading until he is developmentally ready. 
Here is part of the article about Waldorf education, and more importantly, about what is going on with kids at what age.  Of course, they also don’t have kids watch any TV until I can’t remember – 7 or 8?
It is your decision of course – I just wanted to make this material available to you and Stephen, because the culture around us all tends to say: ‘teach em early’.  Just like it says ‘put them in their own bed from day 1’ and other stuff.

An Introduction to Waldorf Education
Don’t Rush the Young Child
Storytelling, songs, rhythmical games, handwork, painting, singing, and lots of free play with toys that lend themselves to many uses, help to develop both imaginative forces and social skills. A child lives with a constantly growing mastery of the physical world. In these early years, a young child’s thought has a pictorial and dreamy quality, quite unlike the thinking of an adult.  Formative forces are still working to mold the young body and brain.  At about age seven, these forces are freed to develop memory and intellect.  Prematurely awakening a child’s intellect by asking the child to focus on academics in what should be the imitative phase, means that full development of imaginative powers will be hampered. The child will become less truly himself.

The value of early academics has never been proven, but its harm has been clearly documented by such internationally recognized psychologists as David Elkind and educators such as A. C. Harwood.  No two children are alike in the way they learn.  Reading, like walking, speaking, and thinking, appears when the child is mature enough to integrate all the skills needed.  True, reading can be hurried, but there is a cost: emotionally, psychologically, and/or academically. 

A study by the Gesell Institute measured reading skills of children who began reading at age 3 to 5, against the skills of children who began reading much later, at age 6 to 8. The study found that by the third grade both groups of children had similar skill level, but the children who began reading later had a much greater interest in exploring reading.

Waiting until a child is in first grade before starting academic work has obvious advantages for an average or slow child who needs the time to gain maturity before beginning reading or math.  But what to do with the bright child who wants to start writing or reading at age three or four? Here is a chance to share their excitement and declare “You will be able to learn all about that when you get to first grade!”.  You need not sit down and give the children formal lessons at a young age, merely because they are interested in letters and numbers. There are many letter and number games for young children that can provide satisfaction.  Songs with rhymes counting can also be an endless source of delight to the young child.Tell a story or read from one book at a sitting, allowing the child to fully enter into the mood of each story.

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