Learning to Read
As you read this I’d like you to bear in mind that when it comes to life, and most especially to parenting, I firmly believe in “each to their own”. I have strong feelings when it comes to how I parent my children but that does not extend to others. I believe we all have to do what works for us, The 40 Year Old summed it up perfectly for me in a recent rant about parenting and other people’s opinions.
On Saturday I went to the Baby and Toddler Show in Manchester, I really enjoyed it and met some lovely people. If you missed my blog post about it, you can read it here. As I was wondering around I spotted a stall about teaching children to read, as we are home educating the boys I thought it might have some useful resources. As soon as I started talking to the woman on the stall I realised it was called The Infant Learning Company with the tag line ‘your baby can read’ and that it wasn’t the place for me, I tried to politely excuse myself but the woman had a sales pitch she was determined to get through.
Now, as I’ve said I do believe we all have different ways of doing things and it’s polite to respect that, however, the woman said two things that made me very cross. I explained that we intended to follow the Danish approach of play based education until the children were around 7 and then we would start formal teaching of reading. The first statement she uttered to annoy me was that children’s brains stop developing at 7 so they are unable to learn after this age, this is so outrageously stupid that it hardly dignifies a response, but I shall give it one. My response is that I wish that I hadn’t have gone to the effort of sending me teen to school for the past 8 years as it was clearly a huge waste of time as he couldn’t possibly have learnt anything. Also my own 3 years spent as university studying science was clearly pointless, except, oh wait, I learnt loads (despite starting at aged 23) and then I went on to become a science teacher…
The second thing was that there is no evidence to support our plan of delayed reading, at this point I realised there was no longer a polite way to excuse myself and I told the woman I wasn’t going to argue with her and simply walked away.
To start with, I think the Danish education system might be a little bit of evidence of the success of delaying reading, they have incredibly high literacy levels and children who have a strong desire to learn. In fact Piaget suggests that 7 is the age that many children are first able to read (Blake, 1984).
Having trained to be a teacher I had to do lots of research on education methods and when it comes to my own children I intend to continue my research in order to be as informed as I can. When reading the information on the Your Baby Can Read website I notice that most of the papers written are referenced to one person, Dr. Robert Titzer, the very man who runs the company. Now I hate to be cynical… who am I kidding? I love being cynical, it comes with my enquiring and scientific mind which means I don’t just accept any old sales pitch without doing a bit of research.
I will be researching this further and may well share my findings here, I believe education is too important to go into blindly and I intend to be as well equipped as I possible can.
Stella Branch March 11, 2014 at 9:06 am · Reply →
It’s tricky isn’t it? My son started “reading” by his own volition when he was about 3 and I just went with him giving him what he seemed to need. He was reading The Hobbit by the time he was 6. I realise this is an exception as my daughter at 19 still doesn’t like reading much. That woman was obviously just spouting the blurb and you are obviously informed enough to educate your children as you see fit. Good luck!
Corinne March 11, 2014 at 9:32 am · Reply →
Thank you, I think that’s the thing that bothered me, it was a sales pitch based on misinformation that some parents could believe completely. My eldest was young when he learnt to read because he showed an interest and has remained an avid reader. I love books and want my children to enjoy them too so we look at books and read stories, if they show an interest I will nurture that and help them to read earlier if they show an interest, but I won’t be formally teaching them until they are older.
Amanda Egan (mummy misfit)
Amanda Egan (mummy misfit) March 11, 2014 at 9:43 am · Reply →
I would have thought that ‘The Infant Learning Company’ could well be in danger of helping parents to put toddlers OFF reading! Any parent knows that kids, generally, will only learn when they have an interest – if it’s forced, forget it!
As one of your other readers commented, my son was also reading at three but that was because he drove me mad asking me what the squiggles on the paper meant and I actually believe that he was born knowing how to read as it took very little input from me.
However, if I chose to teach him other things, and he wasn’t interested, he’d let me know in no uncertain terms!
All kids are different and we all choose to parent differently – what’s so wrong with that?
i think you did very well not to dump and nicely fermented nappy on the stupid woman’s head 🙂
Corinne March 11, 2014 at 10:25 am · Reply →
Thanks for making me chuckle, I went and found Gareth and had a big rant!
I do think you need to do it when they are ready.
Sonya Cisco March 11, 2014 at 10:05 am · Reply →
I think your comment above sums it up for me, if they are interested earlier, you will teach them. That is my approach too, sadly I feel ill equipped to home educate so Syd will be packed off at 4 and perhaps have these things forced on him before he is ready. I wish we had a system closer to the Danish one here.
Corinne March 11, 2014 at 10:24 am · Reply →
It’s such a shame the system doesn’t match what many parents want. I think most parents could home educate, but it’s not for everyone even if they could do it (which I’m sure you could).
Rachel March 11, 2014 at 11:31 am · Reply →
I had the pleasure of chatting to Dr Titzer at The Baby Show last month. He made me feel very much a failure as a parent and tried to push me in to spending £90 buying one of the sets.
I went over to the stall, as like you I was intrigued and thought it may be good for our 3yo as she likes to sit with a book and thought it may help her to start reading but he was focused on my 17 month old learning the programme “now before it’s too late”.
I am hoping to home educate the youngest two (or older 2 are in main stream school, although I have also considered pulling them out). We will do things at a pace she is ready at and when she wants to learn.
Corinne March 11, 2014 at 11:35 am · Reply →
It is a terrible thing to do to parents, making them feel guilty in order to sell something like that. I’m actually relieved not to be alone in my concerns though.