Mum defends her decision to not teach her son to read before school

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  • Mum Crystal Lowery has spoken out to explain why she won’t be teaching her son to read before he starts school.

    Kids have a lot to learn in their first few years of life and it’s not uncommon for parents to give them a helping hand by teaching them their ABC’s before school.

    But mum-of-two and stand-up comedian Crystal has written a lengthy post on her Facebook page explaining why she’s going to focus on developing her five-year-old son’s creative and communication skills instead.

    She reads to her son, but is not teaching him to read because ‘he’s too busy learning other things.’

    ‘Don’t get me wrong’, she says in the post. ‘We read books to him all the time.’

    ‘We’ve imagined ourselves in Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory, and we’re 170 pages into Harry Potter’s Chamber of Secrets. We’re teaching him to enjoy stories, to get lost in characters.’

    Crystal defends her parenting decision by saying: ‘we’re not teaching him how to read… He’s learning how to be a good sport – how to wait his turn in Candy Land and not gloat when he makes it to the King’s Ice Cream Castle before his sister does.

    She goes on to describe the types of non-classroom learning he’s doing: ‘He’s learning how to build. From blocks, to sticks, to Legos, he feels the weight of the different materials in his little sausage fingers, and examines the physical integrity of the various structures he has made.

    In addition, she then explains how he is also learning to exercise by chasing the family dog and playing tag. She says'[he] climbs on playground equipment, dances (well), and practices karate (poorly).

    The stand-up comedian knows that her son is going to need his body for a long time and so she wants him to build his muscles through activity instead of ‘sitting at a desk all day.’

    And, also important to a lot of parents, she insists that he’s learning how to take care of his things, she says: ‘Through trial and error (oh, so much error!) he has seen what happens when he leaves a book out in the rain.’

    Another lesson a teacher probably won’t cover in the curriculum is that Crystal’s son is learning that ‘you can’t rough house with an 8lb Pekingese.’

    She goes on to list other lessons her son is picking up before school: ‘He’s learning how to be creative. How to draw his own picture books full of monsters, and how to construct an imaginary spaceship with Amazon boxes.

    ‘He’s learning about ecosystems. He looks at bugs, flowers, and thunderstorms. He sees how fauna and flora inhabit the world together interdependently.’

    ‘The key to happiness is to focus on his blessings rather than complaining about what he doesn’t have,’ she says.

    ‘He’s learning how to apologize. To overcome his own hurt feelings and to empathize with other kids when there’s been a confrontation.

    ‘He’s learning how to forgive. To understand that everyone makes mistakes, and that he can love other people despite their foibles. He’s learning important lessons every day. But he’s not learning how to read.

    While some people, and parents, may disagree with this Crystal is standing firmly by her decision, adding: ‘And though he may not show up to his first day of Kindergarten with ‘advanced reading skills’, he will come to the classroom with so much more.’

    ‘The ability to try new things without getting frustrated. The ability make friends, even though friendship can be a messy business.

    ‘The ability to listen to others and follow instructions. The ability to problem-solve. The ability to concentrate on a task.’

    Crystal then points out that children learn so much, and it can’t all be measured with a standardised test.

    She goes on to end the post with: ‘And though someday his hours will be filled with phonics, and penmanship, and fractions, we aren’t worried about all that today.

    ‘Today he has more important things to learn.’

    Not all commenters were complimentary about the concept, with one person posting: ‘I fail to see how ability to read prevents a child from learning other things you mentioned,’ while another raged: ‘This is absolutely stupid. You’re setting back his education immensely and setting him up for failure in school. He’s going to be so behind when he starts. You can teach him all of those things AND teach him how to read. I’m sorry but this is just wrong.’

    However, the majority of responses Crystal received were positive, with one user saying: ‘Finally a mom with common sense😘 I unschool. My children like your son have a childhood, which has been forgotten. Trying to shove reading in kids before they turn 4. So glad to see a normal mom who has common sense and no common core.’

    Another agreed: ‘From a teacher AND a mom…super job and so beautifully written! Your children are so very lucky to have you for their mama!’

    What do you think? Is teaching your child to read before school really necessary? Let us know in the comments box below.