Monday, June 30, 2008

Teaching babies to read

There has been a lot of talk lately of teaching babies to read. It was on a popular current affairs show in both Australia and New Zealand (Infomercial style) and has me seriously worried. You can read what another mother from NZ wrote about it here. (Don't even ask me how I happened to see this program.....)
It got me thinking about how I feel when I read the free magazine 'Melbourne's Child.' Of course there are a lot of interesting articles in there but amongst the articles are about a gazillion ads for all kinds of child related paraphernalia. Ads for play gym (develop fine and gross motor skills!), music classes (teach your child to be a virtuoso!) , art classes (creativity is important!), language classes (don't let your child be left behind!), cooking classes, this classes and that classes. All of these ads try to play on our consciouses. What ever happened to letting our children be children? No sooner do we have them out of the mines (in this part of the world at least) then we rip their childhood away and turn them into little adults with designer clothes and the latest education classes starting at 3 months.
So why do we do it? Guilt? Hope and expectation? To get them out of our face? To keep up with the Joneses? How about making a decision not to buy the latest gadget and instead spending some quality time in creative play?
For me, I think that it is time to reassess our lives and decide what is important. What makes us happy? Should we be teaching our babies to swim and read before they can walk or should we let them develop in their own time through love and age appropriate activities? Children only need the opportunity to discover new things and they will surprise us with what they see. A walk to the park is full of leaves and flowers, birds, cracks in the footpath, grass, ants, clouds, wind and neighbours taking a walk and stopping for a chat. This is much more entertaining to my 14 month old than shoving flash cards in her face so I can show off how 'clever' she is to other parents. My Little Moo will learn to read in her own time. Until then we can share story time together with lots of wriggles and cuddles to boot.


Mum said...

Hear! Hear!