We "taught" my daughter how to read.
LOL. Well, okay-- sort of.
We taught her, over a period of about 10 minutes a day, for a few weeks, how to apply
the knowledge she already possessed (phonemic awareness of entire alphabet) to decoding.
We used these books, which came in a lovely boxed set:Now I'm Reading, Playful Pals level 1 set
(These were more appealing than Bob books for her-- better illustrations and more.. er... well, frankly? snarky
After that first set, there was no need to do anything more. She then picked out two sets of Clifford phonetically-controlled readers at the local bookstore (sets 2 and 3, I think
). No worksheets, no drill, no nothing. Within a month of starting
all of this she was reading silently to herself from those Clifford books and hauling them EVERYWHERE with her. They were a set like these-- Clifford's Phonics Fun set of 12 books
Honestly, her attitude about all of this was... a great deal of satisfaction.
She was just burning
with a desire to read. For herself. Truly. The next thing that she ate up was Little Bear and Cam Jansen, quickly followed by Magic Treehouse. The sheer rate of progress was the best argument against this having been some kind of hothousing on our part.
That's the key thing, I think. I mean, DD was pretty pouty the first couple of times we worked with her-- she's a perfectionist, see, and 'teaching' a perfectionist anything
is fraught with tears and sullen outbursts of "I caaaaaaannnnn't..." LOL. Once you understand that, and recognize that teaching "NOooooooo, you pick yourself up and TRY AGAIN" is just as important as anything else a child like that will ever learn.... well, it gives you a different take on the notion of hothousing entirely. How pushy is too
pushy? Should we have let her give up and learn her own way (whole language, probably)? I think not.
This was a child whose rate of literacy development was superhuman,
truly. She needed help to get going, but her momentum was entirely her own. Within a year, she was reading at (at least) a 6th-8th grade level, and within ~30 months, she was reading Shakespeare. The fact that school still wanted her to be completing "phonemic awareness" activities at that point in time is a little surreal, it's true... but I don't think that my 6yo should have had her
ideal development stunted in order to make her fit into ND and standard teaching any better.
I also wholly believe that the trajectory that DD entered upon learning to read is simply not possible
for a 'bright' or probably even a MG child. Validation after the fact, though, is probably not very useful in terms of self-reflection about whether or not something is 'hothousing' or whether it's harmful. I don't think that any parent can
really know one way or the other until after the fact, there. I tend to think that hothousing is probably not harmful if it is child-led and conducted in a loving and developmentally sensitive fashion that doesn't exclude normal developmental 'work' for children.
Make no mistake, I'm not
a fan of "smarter baby" crap. Not at all. We didn't use it with DD. We delayed
the introduction of electronics, television (okay, when she had pnueumonia as a toddler and was VERY ill, we did use a few Teletubbies VHS tapes to keep her QUIET)... We even delayed the introduction of any kind of formal instructional tools until DD was about four and a half years old, which is quite late, given that she's probably PG. We just talked to her, read to her, and let her explore.
On the other hand, really very basic (phonetically-controlled readers, magnetic letters/number sets) tools to teach phonics and number sense? You bet we did-- at that preschool mark, once we could see that she was constructing her OWN method of learning it on her own. Because that is a foundation for relating
(even autodidactically) to pretty much everything else up through high school level material. Having an understanding of the basic 'language' of standard pedagogy just made sense to both of us as educators.
We'd have provided those things to ANY child of ours, regardless of what we interpreted that child's level of cognitive ability to be.