Has anyone ever been surprised at how “behind” your child seems to be? This has happened to me a few times actually. . .always in reference to my preschool aged children and always in reference to learning how to read. I have mentioned before that we don’t do preschool formally. While I consider reading literature to the children (all of them–even the two year olds) a necessary task on my daily agenda. I don’t consider teaching them their alphabet, teaching them their numbers, or teaching them letter sounds necessary until about age 5 or 6. Sometimes, they just learn them on their own, but I feel strongly about the good research behind waiting longer, and so I do.
Every once in awhile, the issue comes up. For example, my four year old is learning her letters now (at her request.) She doesn’t know all the sounds and more importantly, she wants you to think she knows less that she really does.
All the same, some concerned relative pointed out that she’s way behind her peers who all go to preschool. All her peers know the alphabet sounds. Shouldn’t all four year olds know the alphabet sounds? Isn’t she behind because she’s not adding simple numbers yet? Where are the flash cards? Don’t I know I’m damaging her future academic success? Ahem. . .
“Behind” is a relative term in homeschooling. First of all, to be behind something, you have to accept the standard of what is par. I don’t. . .therefore my children are not behind. But I understand that when people are asking for “our welfare” this is not what they mean. They don’t want to hear me wax eloquent on how I think that starting education earlier is a mistake and that pushing kids earlier is bad for them.
Instead, what I share is that I have a plan. I know what I’m doing. I point out that Alex, my son, didn’t really read until he was 6. He’s almost finished with 1st grade and will start 2nd grade work “despite” his late beginning. I point out that my oldest daughter Lizzy, reads at the junior high level. Again, another child for whom letters didn’t exist until age 5.
The best thing about not being “behind” though, is that they’re not “ahead” either. They are where they should be according to the talents they have been given. And being where they should be, they are free to enjoy it.
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