"I'm not teaching my 5-year-old how to read"
The experts say that little kids have brains like sponges: Whatever you put in front of them, they’re going to learn from it. One of the best things that you can do for a kid is read to him or her; it helps them develop a larger vocabulary and gets them ready to read.
When are children expected to learn how to read themselves though? Is it the responsibility of the parent or of the school system to perfect their reading skills? One mom is saying that reading to your child and teaching them other life skills is far more important than teaching them to read at a certain age, and she has many critics.
Comedian and mother Crystal Lowery decided to share her parenting style with her Facebook fans, and her post went viral. She explained that she wasn’t actively trying to teach her five-year-old son how to read because there are many other important lessons he needs to learn right now. She began her post, “Don’t get me wrong, we read him books all the time. We’ve imagined ourselves in Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory, and we’re 170 pages into Harry Potter’s Chamber of Secrets. We’re teaching him to enjoy stories, to get lost in characters. But we’re not teaching him how to read. Not just yet. He’s too busy learning other things.
“He’s learning how to be a good sport–how to wait his turn in Candy Land and not gloat when he makes it to the King’s Ice Cream Castle before his sister does. He’s learning how to take care of his things. Through trial and error (oh, so much error!) he has seen what happens when he leaves a book out in the rain, or a lump of Play Doh on the table overnight. He’s learning that you can’t rough house with an 8lb Pekingese.”
She listed the many, many other things that the boy is currently learning, continuing, “And though he may not show up to his first day of Kindergarten with ‘advanced reading skills,’ he will come to the classroom with so much more. The ability to try new things without getting frustrated. The ability make friends, even though friendship can be a messy business. The ability to listen to others and follow instructions. The ability to problem-solve. The ability to concentrate on a task.
“There is so much our children learn that cannot be measured with a standardized test. And though someday his hours will be filled with phonics, and penmanship, and fractions, we aren’t worried about all that today. Today he has more important things to learn.”
Her post caused quite a stir with people who believe that children should be adequate at reading before kindergarten. Commenter Shanneen Rowledge wrote, “Oh dear – another American nutter. Great you foolish person – don’t teach him to read! Whatever else you teach the poor kid won’t be much use if he can’t read! Compulsory birth control… is the only way to go.”
Parents aren’t perfect
Crystal eloquently responded to her, saying, “You’ll notice I never said I wouldn’t teach my child to read. My son only just turned five and he is not starting kindergarten for another year. Is the pressure to teach him to read right now (i.e. while he’s preschool age) still so intense?
“Research shows that pushing phonics before children are ready can cause problems, and that the best predictor of literacy is whether children are read to. The second predictor of literacy is how many books are in the home (for the record, we happen to have 826 books in our house right now). I wrote this post to my tiny audience because my friends were disheartened by how reading has become a competitive sport for bragging rights among parents. I was hoping to subvert that bragging culture and remind my friends all the other things pre-schoolers are learning besides phonics.
“Wouldn’t it be great to offer such empathy rather that writing me off as a ‘nutter’? BTW, my husband and I have six degrees between us including two Masters’ and PhD, and I have been published in medical research six times over, so we do know about research and data.”
In Crystal’s defense, Ashley Nicole Knight said, “No matter what in life people will always criticize every person on this planet bout their parenting skills. It’s just a repeating never ending way of life. Just do what you feel fit. And others can do what they feel fit for their children.”
What do you think of Crystal’s decision not to teach her child to read at this age? Let us know in the comments and SHARE this story!