“Having a baby changes everything” – we’ve all heard that, and for me, it was certainly true. We were so blessed to have this precious baby, and then I had discovered the world of teaching babies to read. I was so excited to share everything I was learning with others! But I quickly learned that very few others shared my enthusiasm.
I remember a retired teacher, even after seeing our oldest actually reading, saying, “But she’s not really reading that. She’s just memorized it.”. (In reality, she had never seen that text before, but that’s another story.)
I had a clerk in a big chain bookstore laughingly tell her supervisor in a loud whisper that I thought I could teach my baby to read. Wasn’t that just ridiculous?!?!?! Preposterous? Hilarious!?!
A friend suggested that I was too concerned with making my child a geek and that she would “never fit in”.
Home school pioneers not so many years ago faced similar criticisms: Would it really work? Will this damage the children? Are these parents really “qualified” to teach their children? Don’t you need some sort of a degree?
If I could go back and tell my younger self a few things, it’d go something like this:
Listen, you are on the right path here. This child, and the ones behind her – yes, there will be more, so don’t freak out – will do amazing incredible things. She is reading right now. She is learning colors, shapes, numbers, words, music, the names of so many things every day. DON’T STOP. Don’t pay any attention to the discouragers. YOU are her mother, chosen by God for this task. YOU keep listening to the Holy Spirit – keep praying, keep reading that Bible even if you don’t understand it! This time is SO short – make the most of it, use it, work it for your child’s sake, for her future, for the glory of God. Don’t worry about spending this quality time with her, getting rid of cable tv and staying home more, and don’t worry that you are wasting money on books and the tools you need to help her read.
This is BIG. This is The Best Thing You Will Ever Do.
Take care of yourself and eat well. Work out. Don’t stress over the little things. Take more photos and video. OK, I know you’re pretty crazy with that camera now, but trust me: IT WON’T BE ENOUGH. And whatever you do, DON’T STOP teaching her to read.
She’s brilliant, you know?
A world changer.
Chosen by God, just for you, just for this time.
There were voices of encouragement: my retired teacher mom and in-laws were always supportive and my ob/gyn, Dr. Cook, was, as well . He was confident that what we were doing would work well. It was really nice to get that boost from a professional and I’ve never forgotten his words and kind smiles.
So, how DO you handle the critics?
Your journey will be different, of course, and I hope you find nothing but loving support, but….just in case, let me share two schools of thought with you: face the criticism head on or just keep what you are doing quiet, at least at first.
In our social media world, we want to share everything now, but really, we don’t have to tell anyone outside of a small circle. I stopped telling even extended family members after a time, but it would have been so nice to have a supportive group around me. I’m an introvert, but if you are more extroverted, educate the critics (without bragging, with humility) if they are willing to listen – don’t waste your time or energy if they aren’t. I have noticed that none of those critics have been around to help raise my children and have zero importance in our lives.
Tip: It’s SO hard to not brag a little, or a lot! Once your babies are reading, grandparents and other family members will do lots of that for you, but that can drive people away. I encourage you to take lots and lots of videos and save them to somewhere safe, even if you don’t share them right away. We didn’t do that, and we so wish we had.
Here are a couple of resources that might help you:
- Join the forum over at BrillKids. This is a VERY diverse group of mostly moms and some great dads from all over the world. The information and encouragement shared there is just amazing. I do highly recommend BrillKids products and I am an affiliate because the programs are just so good. Here is a post where I talked about starting with written words and then using Little Reader.
- While you are there, read this post by KL Wong about criticisms of teaching babies to read. It’s long, but so worth it.
- And if you need more encouragement, Larry Sanger, a seriously smart guy who co-created Wikipedia, wrote this essay on teaching his son, starting at 22 months, to read.
Whatever happens, don’t stop. Your baby will amaze you, and he will change the world, too.
I will be praying for you!