On February 14, Sarah Maslin Nir wrote a New York Times article entitled, “Reading at Some Private Schools Is Delayed,” which hasn’t left me all week (of course it doesn’t help that I have been at an Orton-Gillingham Reading Training Conference in NJ since Monday). Reading philosophy and approaches has been my lingo for 5 days now, so this article really resonated with me.
In my opinion, Steve Nelson says it perfectly: “Those who get anxious think that education is like a race and you’ve got to get running fast, and if you don’t you’re going to fall behind and then you’re going to lose the race…That’s not the right way to look at education.”
Pushing a child early academically could be really wonderful for some kids but not ALL. We are all uniquely different and so are our brains. The process of how we learn is unique for every child, who has various strengths in specific learning styles and multiple intelligences. The trick is to know your child and not project your own apprehensions, insecurities and failures onto them academically. It’s great your child can read chapter books at age 3, but it says nothing about his intellectual curiosity or social-emotional development.
If you have chosen to put your child in a private school who emphasizes process versus product, fostering a joy of learning through child-centered, emergent curriculum, you must sit back and see the whole picture. For most, this kind of education is new to them and differs greatly from their own educational experiences. Trust the process.
It is hard not to worry as a parent. Worry that you are doing the right thing for your children. Worried that you are giving them the right opportunities. Worried that they will flourish in the academic environment you choose for them. But the simple fact that you are a concerned, involved, and supportive parent, ensures that your child WILL learn how to read. Reading is simply 1 component that your child learns K-3 and the speed at which they pick this up is not directly connected to the success of your child in future academic endeavors.
As educators and parents, we want the best for our children and feel learning should be a positive, inspiring and motivating force in their lives, unlocking their intrinsic desire for knowledge. I was a drill and kill, whole-language taught child, but I would choose a more unconventional approach for my own future children. Any approach that emphasizes the process rather than the product sounds like a winner to me. Education isn’t a sprint….it is a marathon.