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Better in their own time

I recently had a conversation with the billing person at my kids' orthodontist office. We addressed billing issues, then quickly segued into general kid stuff and current struggles. She mentioned difficulty with her six-year-old son, and reminded me of Mack. I commiserated, then offered experience and advice. She was very grateful. I had been in, and am still in, her shoes in many ways.

As she and her husband attempt to navigate chaos schooling, they are seeing their son needs more. They are seeing more of the disparity from their wonderful school to what many kids need. Mack struggles with executive function, working memory, ADHD, and SPD in addition to his medical needs of food allergies, and now an allergic rash that renders him distracted with itchiness and pain. This woman's son struggles with similar mental differences, and dyslexia.

I was able to help bolster her. fears about him falling behind with reading because Mack didn't read until after age seven, but took off once he got it. I encouraged her giving her son a break when he is really struggling reminding her that we have all summer too. I suggested frequent breaks to move his body and shift his mind. I recommended a book that let me breathe and gave confidence to countless parents struggling with our expectations that kids read by age six, when their brains aren't really ready.

"Better late then early" by Raymond Moore, Dennis Moore, and Dorothy Moore discusses research conducted in the 1970s and 1980s about how children's brains develop and access information. They concluded that children who are ready to learn a subject learn the content or skill quickly. If they aren't ready, they struggle and become frustrated. They show that formal schooling prior to age seven or eight is not as effective as waiting until later. They demonstrate kids who have a text rich environment and engaging play, but not formal education fare better than their peers who are thrust into formal schooling by age five. By third grade, the students who began at age five are behind or equal to those who waited to start until seven or eight. Thus showing the brains are typically not ready for the rigors of seated school until later.

Our educational system uses a model that seems to think rigorous early education produces better results. Fighting against small children's brains that aren't ready for the input proves we are just beating our heads against a wall--and theirs. I use "Better late than early" to calm parents who are scared their children are going to fall behind and never catch up. It lets them breathe and relax their expectations for prodigious readers. Seeing their kids as kids rather than vessels to fill with knowledge can be cleansing for frightened parents. Here is another review of "Better late than early",

I hope this has been a source of encouragement to you as well if you have a struggling reader. The same concept is true of maths and other topics. We see over and over in our home that kids who are ready to learn, do. Kids who aren't, don't. When we remove all the other mess of school and learning, we see kids who will learn massive amounts of content when they are ready.

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