Monday, May 12, 2014

A Lack of Milestones

It's been one of my cardinal rules that school is optional until age 6.

It's easy to stick to this rule when you have children who, like Duchess and Deux, teach themselves to read by age five. Or if you have smaller ones who beg to be included in what the big kids are doing.

But Dot and Dash are not interested. Oh, they could read, if they had a mind to. They can tell you the sounds in a word, and if you sit them down to it and ask them to read off the letters in a word they can figure out what it says, and if you show them the word in one spot on the page they can see it in another. But the task interests them not a smidge. They know how to spell their own names, and how to spell Garfield. They check out stacks and stacks of books from the library and sit poring over the pictures for hours. But they do not want lessons.

Reading is such a nice, tangible milestone. It's like sleeping through the night and potty training. It feels good to announce that your child has reached the mark, and of course they should all do it a little ahead of time.

But, they can't *all* do it ahead of time. And it really doesn't matter, nor does it say anything about how smart they are. There are plenty of other interesting things to do with your time when you are five, especially if you have a twin who is ready to put on a cape and go out to adventures in the backyard while the big kids are busy at school.

They memorize poetry and Bible verses by the yard. They listen to Longfellow and Bunyan and Kipling with evident comprehension. They can tell you the plot of any Narnia book at length. They can add and subtract up to seven without even a glance at their fingers. They ask questions and give explanations during science lessons that floor me. But they don't read.

At least not that I've caught them.

I promised no required lessons until the fall after they turn six, and I'm sticking to it. Their desire to mimic the big kids is more than satisfied by doing a maze every morning. On rainy mornings this fall they'll sit down and we will do the work and they will read.

Well, that's my theory. Or, you know, maybe they'll be illiterate all their lives and curse my theories.

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