We’re about 90% sure that Silas really read–as in, sounded out–two words this week. The first was “dog,” a couple of days ago. Interestingly, “doggy” was the first word he said, two years ago. I detect a theme here. The second was “red.” He’s not-quite-three. I’m thrilled. I had hoped he would be an early reader, not because I want him to be “advanced,” exactly, but because I love reading so much and I can hardly wait to see him experience unmediated immersion in a book. That feeling of falling deeply into a world of imagination, barely coming up for air, is one of the pleasures I remember from my childhood. I hope my kids will be good enough in other subjects to function in the world, but literacy is my lifelong passion. It’s an area where I want them to excel, not to prove anything, but because it is such a delight.
He’s not a reader yet. It’s just two words. It might take a long time for him to get to reading a whole sentence. But he’s made this huge conceptual leap, and I’m excited about it.
This makes me think about a discussion I had with a friend several weeks ago. She works in the public schools, and she made a case for parents not “working with” their kids, because then the kids are bored when they get to school. They create trouble. She has a point–JC and I were both bored as all get-out in elementary school, and he became quite the trouble-maker, from what I hear. I don’t think that she’s right, though, that we can solve this problem by discouraging children from learning. Bright kids are going to be bored a lot of the time in school, and I don’t think there’s much any of us can do about it one way or another, short of a massive overhaul of our educational system.
We’re not “working with” Silas, anyway. We read all the time, because we love to read. Silas and Petra love to have us read to them. We do it because they like it. Not to accomplish any particular goal, to reach milestones by a certain point, but just out of joy. I clearly recall every time anyone tried to get me to slow down, so I would be less bored. My first-grade teacher wouldn’t let me check out books from the school library, or bring books from home, that were above grade-level. I started reading when I was three (and my parents weren’t exactly “flashcarding” me). I was pretty far above first-grade-level by the time I hit first grade. That teacher would have had an easier time with me if she’d let me enjoy the books I wanted to read (Matilda) instead of limiting me to the books I was “supposed” to be reading (Green Eggs and Ham). Do we “work with” our kids? Not exactly. But are we going to try to slow them down? No. Absolutely not. I don’t think it would work, anyway. Everyone is on their own timeline, and when we try to mess with it, we get ourselves into trouble.
I don’t know what we’ll do when he gets to the right age for school. If he keeps going like he is, he’s going to be a problem child in school, unless he gets a super-great teacher. Maybe we’ll homeschool him. Maybe we’ll just suck it up and deal. It’s a few years down the road, but coming fast. In the mean time…let’s go to the library!