Wednesday, May 28, 2008

A good problem to have

M is addicted to reading. Seriously, she spends hours reading book after book, uninterrupted. I ask her to help unload the dishwasher, and she walks to the kitchen slowly, reading as she goes, hopefully not running into the door frame on her way. We finally had to remove all books from her room, as she'd spent an hour or more reading each night before actually falling asleep. We went to a birthday party, and she went to the child's bedroom and read books.

So what's the problem? She's 4. She won't be 5 until next October. Her next year in preschool is kindergarten prep, which means they'll be introducing letters. She already knows letters. She's reading first-grade level books. We didn't teach her this, either. She taught herself, by eavesdropping while we were teaching K.

I'm sure other parents have this problem too. I never believed them, really, when they'd say their 4-year-old knows how to read, in the same way people give us that disbelieving look when we tell them. "Surely she's just memorized the books." Nope. Her big sister taught her to read.

Again, so what's the problem? Well, it's two-fold. One, M is not the type of child who will behave when bored. In fact, she has trouble behaving at any time. She just likes to push it as far as she can and see what consequences befall her. Thankfully, we know her teacher next year and we know her teacher will push her forward and keep her occupied. But after that? Who knows? And socially, emotionally, M is at pre-school age. She needs to be with that class, and I wouldn't consider letting her skip a grade. So, how can you keep her challenged, keep her disciplined, when learning time is a review for her?

The other problem is she's not socializing with us. She'd rather be by herself reading 24-7. We force her to go outside, to be active, to burn off some energy, to do SOMETHING. My friend is a high school teacher and sponsor for the quiz-bowl teams. We had a long discussion about our children being smart or being socially-inept-smart. Is Maggie leaning toward socially-inept? So what do I do? Do I let her read all the time? Or force her to put down the books? And do you know how odd it is to tell your preschooler to stop reading? It's like asking Bobby Flay to stop grilling your steak!

I could use all the help and advice I can get!

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