Besides potty training, I think there’s no other hill that moms are determined to charge than reading.
Joyful is a mom with a 4 year old who is toilet trained and reading. If the child actually, y’know, sleeps at some point and consumes anything other than chicken nuggets…well, that’s pretty much the mom lottery, right?
Welll… no. Not really 😊
But we all (or almost all) try to make it happen. We all try to push just a little. Cajole just a little. Work just a little to see if we can get our child to be an early reader (so many flashcards!)
Seriously, we all do it. And we’re all wrong!
Now, some kids do learn to read and write by age 4. Their brains are ready. A wise mom discovers this and gently provides the opportunity for the child to learn without making it A Thing(tm)
Some children, though don’t learn to read until much (much!) later. Studies have shown that there is no difference between the early reader and the late reader—intelligence is the same, potential is the same. Some very intelligent people didn’t read until into grade school. Some read at 2 or 3 years of age. Early reading is more of a reassurance for mom than a necessity.
Let me repeat that because it is something almost no beginner homeschool parent understands: There. Is. No. Difference. In. Success. Between. The. Early. Reader. And. The. Late. Reader. Intelligence is the same. Potential is the same.
Why do we mention this? Because we’ve been there! And we know it’s so important you don’t push the child to read before they’re ready.
Listen to a mom who has BTDT:
My daughter did not read until age 8. We started working with her at age 4! For four years we worked on reading skills, phonics, letters. I was a mess wondering what was wrong. She became so frustrated that reading times became battle grounds. I would end up irritated, she would end up in a near panic attack, and we would both be near tears. She wanted to read for me, but her brain had not developed to that point yet…it would be like trying to teach an infant how to tie his shoes.
If I had known then what I know now, I would have stopped reading entirely. Her reading was ponderous until she was 8 years old. THEN and only then, from January of that year, where she could barely read “bat, cat, rat” until September, something “clicked”. She stopped transposing words, letters. She was able to follow a line of text. In September she was reading at grade level and in December she was several grades above grade level. In fact, she finished the 5th grade and tested into the 9th grade for English (though we chose to have her do 8th, not 9th). She was not dumb, she was not slow, she was not stubborn. SHE WAS NOT READY! And it was really hard for both of us for a long time.”
So what are you supposed to do when you want to make sure your child isn’t falling behind? Well, first of all, that’s the beauty of homeschooling—you and the child have time and space for him learn at his or her pace.
Secondly, watch for what your child is mastering. All children are learning. Instead of saying “I am freaking out because he is not reading yet and Jane’s kid is!”, say “What does my child do now that he didn’t do a month ago? Huh, actually, he is a lot more agile. And he knows the names of all the construction equipment. His art is more sophisticated.”
Whatever your child is doing, that's what his brain is ready to learn. His brain will get around to the other stuff, and when he is a little older you can start working more.
But in the preschool years, don’t let outside pressure (or your internal pressure!) make you ignore what you see with your eyes and what your gut (and child!) is telling you. The Lord gave your child to YOU. He knows how He made your child. Go pray and see what He would have you know.
And relax 😊