Why this mum is not teaching her 5-year-old to read

Not reading, not yet.
Not reading, not yet.  Photo: Shutterstock

When my teenager was five, I remember working hard with her to teach her to read before she started school. I wanted to give her the best start I possibly could. Then when my son was five, I would show him words and sound things out sometimes as he read, but I never set out to teach him to read. My youngest is about to turn five, and honestly, I don't think I'll be showing her much in the way of reading at all.

With each of my kids, I have read them books every single day. That has never changed. But what has changed is my perception of what's important for them to do before they start school. And increasingly, what I think is important is that they're allowed to be kids and to learn broad life skills.

That's the stance Crystal Lowery has taken too. The comedian and writer at Creepy Ginger Kid says that although she and her family read books to her son all the time, they're not teaching him the mechanics of how to read.

"Not just yet," she wrote on Facebook. "He's too busy learning other things."

Crystal listed many things her son is busy doing instead of learning to read, including exercising, being creative, and learning the key to happiness. So pretty important stuff.

She wrote, "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.

"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 and sees how fauna and flora inhabit the world together interdependently."

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And as well as learning about his physical environment, Crystal says her son is learning how to apologise, forgive, and focus on his blessings.

"He's learning important lessons every day," she wrote. "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 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."

Crystal says she thinks there is so much about life to learn that children can't learn through tests and exams at school.