Little Susy is six years old. Should she read and write?
When little Susy came into this world, she learned to sit, walk, and speak naturally. Why would learning to write and read be any different?
Today. A tropical beach in the South of Thailand. ‘How do I write sun, mommy?’. I lean over to kiss her salty forehead. With a piece of sea-shell I write the word sun in the hot Asian sand. Her eyes twinkle. With an unbridled enthusiasm she now wants to write down the whole alphabet. I smile. What a contrast to her older sisters. In her six years of age, Susy has never been to school. Instead, she has traveled around the world and turned this world into her home, playground and classroom.
‘How do I write sun, mummy?‘
Susy is my youngest child of three. Over the years I have gained confidence in my own motherhood and my child’s natural ability to learn. A confidence I didn’t always own. When my eldest Silvana was born I was young and inexperienced. I was overwhelmed by the amount of authorities that seemed to have a say in my pregnancy, childbirth, and later, educational choices. It’s a controversial topic, I realize this. As many, many countries and cultures lack what we have in abundance; access to health care, and education. I believe however that when it comes to raising our children, Western culture is fast loosing the instinctive connection we naturally have with them. An instinct I believe I carried within, but lost with all the things that I was expected to have, know, and do before I was considered to be able to put my child into this world. It didn’t seem to be about my own strength as a woman, but instead about statistics and graphs, and material possessions. The focus was so much on external factors that I started to ignore that internal voice. By the time Silvana was born, I was molded into an insecure parent. I duly followed the crowd, graphs, and curves. She sat earlier than the average child? Hooray! From age 2,5 Silvana went to pre-school and school. I didn’t know better. We followed the paved (learning) path.
Part of the reasons it takes so much time and effort to teach a child to read or write is because the child often is not physically, mentally, or emotionally ready yet.
But if little Susy came into this world, learning to sit, walk, and speak naturally. If this all happened without much intervention, when her heart was ready. Why would learning to read, write, or anything else for that matter be any different then? Why would we suddenly need desks, and long hours of repetitive work and being taught? Why would we need statistics and averages as points of reference? I honestly don’t believe we do. True, if Susy would have gone to a traditional school, she may have been reading by now. But at what cost? Would the learning have come to her from an intrinsic motivation, because she was ready? Or would she be reading because she was forced into a learning curve? Part of the reasons it takes so much effort to (traditionally) teach a child to read or write is because the child often is not physically, mentally, or emotionally ready yet. If learning is directed by your child’s natural interest (unschooling) reading and writing does happen, just like walking and speaking. This can be as young as age four to age fourteen.
Despite the general assumption that children must be taught to read, studies show children will learn naturally.
Today, at this beautiful Thai beach, little Susy is proving the general assumption wrong and mastering the art of writing, in her favorite classroom, with her favorite teacher, and in her own unique way and time. Sometimes life really is that simple.