Parents have long faced the pressure of raising an early reader (emphasis on early). But there's one mom who hasn't been bowing to that pressure for the sake of her son.
Crystal Lowery, a stand-up comedian and blogger, recently shared a Facebook post where she revealed she had not yet taught her 5-year-old son how to read. Her words went viral.
“I’m not teaching my 5-year-old how to read,” she wrote and accompanied her piece with a photo of her and her son. “Don’t get me wrong, we read him books 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 the characters.”
At the same time, Crystal says he's busy learning equally important things about life that you don’t learn just by reading books. She is letting her son learn how to be a good sport, to build with blocks, sticks, and Legos, and to observe and learn about the environment. She’s teaching him good manners and how to deal with conflict and empathize with others.
Crystal says she wants her son to learn that “the key to happiness is to focus on his blessings, rather than complain about what he doesn’t have.” He needs how to apologize and overcome his hurt feelings and to forgive and love other people despite their mistakes.
While the mom of two acknowledges that his son may not have “advanced reading skills” by the time he starts Kindergarten, he will bring to the classroom so much more knowledge. He will have, Crystal says, “the ability to try new things without getting frustrated, the ability to 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.”
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“There is so much our children learn that cannot be measured with a standardized test. 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.”
Crystal's unique parenting approach has certainly hit home for parents who appreciated her honesty and were relieved to know they were not alone. She said in one of her Facebook replies that she was inspired to share her own experiences because “reading had become a competition for bragging rights among many parents,” and she wanted to highlight the equally important things that young children learn every day instead.
Of course, there were other parents who frowned upon Crystal's words. She suffered backlash after some media outlets shared her post and wrote misleading headlines that made it seem like she does not want to teach her son to read ever.
"The operative word they left out was 'yet'," she says in an interview with Huffington Post. "I said I'm not teaching my child how to read yet."
To quell the negativity, Crystal shared a video on her post's comments. She emphasized that she and her husband value education. "We have six degrees between us including two Masters' and a Ph.D.," she said. They also enjoyed pouring through parenting research. And based on their research, this mom said that it "isn't great to force phonics on a kid before they're ready. Although it is always a great idea to read to a kid to promote literacy."
Lastly, Crystal said her post was done out of concern for her child more than anything else. "When I was honest with myself, I realized I had been forcing phonics on my 18-month-old so that I could brag. We changed our approach to teaching him literacy out of concern for him, not out of laziness," she shared.
We should point out that children develop at different rates. One child will enjoy books as a fish takes to water, but it can easily happen that a child would have no interest in books! A mom had this experience with her two kids; read here how she finally came to terms with it and eventually got her preschooler reading.