Six years ago I was a new mother at play dates who was frantically keeping track of the babies in our group and surroundings who could crawl and at what months.I was given a perfect little girl who was surely destined to be a genius but who was determined to conceal her gifts from humanity though they were very apparent to me, her personal agent mom.
Other babies were crawling before my small bundle of giftedness, she was average…this time…we’ll show that people what you are made of the next milestone. Walking. And walking she was…NOT…as early as other children who were steady and gracious when she was merely clumsily grabbing to the edge of a table. No first came FIRST for the next Nobel Prize. But mom had weaved an intricate plan by now, she will educate this girl at home and then she’ll show the world. Neon words flashed in my mind at night as I read book after book that had those statistics of homeschooled children who learned better, faster, more. Did I say faster? The speed of light wasn’t going to help people measure her literacy and computational abilities in both Spanish and English. (Maybe even German, oh, and don’t forget Latin, that was in her genes from her mother side of the family…OF COURSE).
By the time she was four and quite average for these milestones I had another perfect daughter. If my oldest doesn’t break the mold, my youngest will. And last year as I knew about Ambleside, I was determined to go blatantly against the current and be one of those defiant moms who would start her children in Year 1 at the age of 5, or 5.5 (because I spent quite sometime talking about my daughter in decimals, she wasn’t simply five, she was 5.3, 5.7, almost 6).
This comical exaggeration represents some of what I’ve felt these past six years with my daughters. But this is not all. Luckily we have had six WONDERFUL years I will not trade for anything in the world. Their capacity for love, their love for learning, their joy for life, their relationship with our Lord and many small details that are not world records but that make the world to me have unfolded under my mesmerized eyes.
Will I change anything of these six years. NO. Even the extra worries were part of me, of my own path and particular journey. I’m not ashamed of the low moments when I’ve pushed them, or have had no faith in me, in them, in Him. I’m not proud either, but they are part of my realization and my knowledge today.
So, does my oldest daughter read? Yes and no. She is reading short sentences, cereal box labels, easy (not twaddle) stories with help. I think it’s again pretty standard for a child of six or seven. The fluency comes later. But she can read at a deeper level. She knows many words she has heard in the many stories told or read to her. She has a reading potential that will be handy for her all through her life.
My girls love to learn. They pick books by themselves for me to read, for them to peruse, to play library, to throw to each other…LOL.
Talking to my public school teacher friend, she was telling me how she tells parents not to mind the bad grade in reading, they know the reading abilities in children will click later. It must be unsettling as a parent to get a confusing message and see bad grades in reading but to hear an optimistic comment from a teacher. They know that by the end of first grade most of them read…some. Lots of damage is done to those who would have read later, and to those who were destined not to read. If this is the case in your homeschooling, there is something you can do, that is NOT TO HARM THEM and respect their abilities, no matter how good or bad they are. Humbly and gently improve them, don’t try to change them. This is a subtle way of wanting to change your child. Your duty is to be intentional, to be honest, to provide with the best, not to control the outcome, their relationship with learning, their progress. We think of them as persons but treat them like robots more than I wish to admit. Parking reading instruction for a while is not neglecting. Postponing a banquet is not starving them. Do we worry about not doing enough, or do we truly worry about them not excelling enough? I don’t believe in Freud, but if I did, this question will be very juicy.
We know it’s important to read, but reading is OVERRATED. Yes, say that with me, reading is OVERRATED.
Ask yourself these questions:
a) Are you a caring parent?
b) Are you intentional?
c) Do you model a love for learning?
d) Do you have books? Do you read yourself?
They WILL read.
I don’t want to give false hopes to those who see that at six or seven their children are not making even little progress or who have a doubt about dyslexia or any other situation. But even in that case, children (like grown ups with these traits) will read, and adjustments will come in place. If they love learning they will still have their place in life.
RELAX, forget about reading for a bit. Just go on with life and put things in perspective. Now we have ten years until they want to learn to drive, so enjoy the ride!