Because don't kids have more important things to learn than phonics at such a young age?

By Melissa Willets

A comedian and mom-of-two named Crystal Lowery is making an important point about what young kids should be learning in a new viral post that declares she is not teaching her 5-year-old son John reading yet. Instead, as she explains in her Facebook post, Lowery and her husband feel there are things the child needs to know first. Not surprisingly, some people didn't like what she had to say.

Crystal Lowery

"Don't get me wrong, we read him books all the time," Lowery assures her followers in the post. "We've imagined ourselves in Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory, and we're 170 pages into Harry Potter's Chamber of Secrets. We're teaching him to enjoy stories, to get lost in characters."

She goes on to lay out how instead of teaching her son to read, "He's learning how to be a good sport--how to wait his turn in Candy Land and not gloat when he makes it to the King's Ice Cream Castle before his sister does. 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 exercise," Lowery continues. "He chases the dog, plays tag, climbs on playground equipment, dances (well), and practices karate (poorly). He's going to need his body for a long time, so he builds his muscles through activity instead of sitting at a desk all day," the mom goes on to share.

Basically, John is learning how to be a person. And isn't that the most important skill parents can instill in kids? From learning to take care of his stuff, to how to be creative, and about the world around him, to learning how to apologize and forgive, these are the lessons Lowery feels her son needs to focus on before reading.

She adds that even if her son doesn't show up on his first day of kindergarten with "advanced reading skills ... he will come to the classroom with so much more." Like, the ability to make friends, listen and follow instructions, problem-solve, and concentrate on a given task.

Lowery ends her powerful post by writing, "There is so much our children learn that cannot be measured with a standardized test. And though someday his hours will be filled with phonics, and penmanship, and fractions, we aren't worried about all that today. Today he has more important things to learn."

Lowery told about why her post has gone viral, "I feel like it is resonating with so many people because standards and benchmarks for little kids are becoming more and more far-reaching and developmentally inappropriate."

Amen to that!

She adds, "I have received a fair amount of abuse from people on the internet, but also a lot of cheers from educators and parents who are glad we are having a conversation about the correct way to teach literacy to kids." Lowery also told us, "I wrote the post to remind parents that there are many other things young children are learning besides phonics."

Interestingly, this mama's viewpoint about waiting to stress reading to her son came after she engaged in teaching him phonics too early. "I have video footage of him at 18 months old practicing his letters. However, my husband and I decided to change our approach." This came after researching parenting theory, and ahem, P.S., there are six degrees between Lowery and her husband.

Lowery admits, "When I was honest with myself, I realized I had been forcing phonics on my 18-month-old so that I could brag. We changed our approach to teaching him literacy out of concern for him, not out of laziness." And in the end she says, "The irony is not lost on me that many people who have criticized me have not understood my actual point. It seems they could use a few lessons in reading comprehension. Their vitriolic comments only prove what I attempted to say in the first place--that perhaps we need to invest more in teaching young minds social and relational skills."

Melissa Willets is a writer/blogger/mom. Find her on Facebook and Instagram where she chronicles her life momming under the influence. Of yoga.



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