Monday, June 2, 2014

Celebrating Reading Success and a Wider Range of Normal


Both of my children have been "late" to read.  And while I wasn't too worried about it, it's amazing how stressed out other people in the world seemed to get when they realized the kids were "behind" on reading.

I put both "late" and "behind" in quotation marks because I find both labels frustrating and symptomatic of the competitive way we are always measuring kids against each other.  How do we measure success in reading?  Is it just to be the youngest person you know to start reading?  Is it to love reading?  How do we define loving reading?

There is a range of ages that fall within the normal for all the developmental milestones.  And yet it seems to me that we only focus on the youngest end of that normal range, and also treat years as though they all happen at once.  This means that when it says "a 7 year old should begin reading independently" and your child is say, 7 years and 1 month old and shows no signs of reading independently, then you worry that they are behind.  Six months later they may be reading, which is still within the definition of 7 years old.

Basically, growing up and learning should not be a competition.  Parenting and teaching should not be a high stakes stressful race through milestones and test scores, either.  I think we'll get a lot further with some patience, with some grace, and with some faith and hope.

So my children have both made huge leaps in their reading, and we are seeing our schooling patterns shift as they are spending more time reading on their own and I'm spending less time reading out loud to them.  I'm happy and proud of them, but I was never worried or afraid it wouldn't happen, in its own right time.

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