Wednesday, September 8, 2010

What do you think? Wednesday

I recently read "Reading Magic: Why Reading Aloud to our Children Will Change Their Lives Forever" by Mem Fox. You may have heard of her. Mem Fox is the author of some great children's literature including two of our favorites, "Time for Bed" (Tyson's favorite) and "Whoever you Are" (Logan's favorite). Since my boys like her books so much, I thought I should check out a book that she wrote for parents. Let me begin by telling you I loved this book. In fact, I read it, turned the last page, and read it again. I'm not sure I've ever done that before- finished a book and then immediately reread it. The text was easy to read and fly right through, yet the content was challenging. One thing I noticed about Fox was that she is very straight-forward in her instructions on reading aloud. While I agreed with most thoughts, I didn't agree entirely with this quote. 
"We absolutely must not attempt to teach our children formally before they start school. For parents to teach their own preschool children is the last straw. Teaching is the flip side of what works. Teaching before school kills the fun. Preschool children like their parents to be parents, not teachers. the roles are quite different, and it's precisely the laid-back, hang-loose, let's-have-fun, relaxed-and-comfortable role of a parent that is so powerful in helping children first to love reading and then to be able to read by themselves."
The first time reading I thought, "I must have read that wrong." So I reread, and then thought, "Well, I don't agree with that at all." While there are still aspects of the quote that I don't agree with, I will say reading the rest of the book changed my thoughts.
So, what do you think of this quote? Agree/disagree? Have an experience to share? I'd love to hear your thoughts.


  1. I've read this book many times and adore it! I'm actually going to be writing an article about Mem Fox and reading aloud for the preemie blog I write for... :)

    Did you know she does read alouds on her website? It's fun to hear her read "Where is the Green Sheep?" and "Koala Lou."

  2. I read that book when my daughter was about a year old and I even quoted a little phrase from her book, "entertainment is the teacher" on my blog. I picked it out as a reminder that if I'm not having fun with her doing an activity then what's the point? So everything we do (aside from chores) is fun for us, otherwise I don't do it. Of course, I definitely do not agree that parents are not teachers. That's ridiculous to me. My grandma (who raised me) taught me lots of stuff before I started school and I loved it so I don't think that teaching before school kills the fun. It didn't for me. In fact, I think it set me on a road to be a life-long learner because I love discovering and gaining knowledge. But that being said, I'm not heavy on the facts drilling. That's one of the reasons that I like doing art so much with my daughter...most of the learning is occuring within her rather than from me. She is learning shapes and colors by using them not by me doing a file folder game or flashcards. And books and singing! GREAT ways to learn!

  3. Well, this ship has already kind of sailed for us. I taught my daughter many things including reading, because she wanted to learn. But I did notice that the moment I started pushing too much, she would pull back, so I agree with some of the sentiment in the quote. Preschool learning should be fun, it shouldn't be full of structure and rules and plans, and then the child might thrive in the parent school. By the way, my daughter did tell me once, "Stop teaching me, mama! I learn things in school (she also goes to preschool 3 days a week). At home I want to play."

  4. Interesting post! :o) As Mom to three kids who never went to preschool, I have to disagree with the context of this statement; however, after reading it twice, I believe I understand what the writer is trying to say. I think she means parents should teach in an engaging and fun manner rather than try to 'school' their children in a boring, academic way. Visiting from the blog hop. Happy Friday! :o) Larri at Seams Inspired

  5. I have to say I disagree and agree with the quote. As a Montessorian and homeschooler, I obviously "taught" my children a lot before school age. But at the same time, as a Montessorian, I believed in following my children’s interests. So my children always enjoyed their preschool learning experiences. I don’t believe in force feeding worksheets and facts to preschoolers – especially to preschoolers who aren’t interested.

    I love your blog and your emphasis on reading. I’m your newest follower!

  6. I think I half agree and half disagree with this statement. On one hand, I think it is important to begin to teach your children before they begin to go to school. On the other hand, I think it is important to teach them in a way that makes the learning fun for the child. We should not become consumed with just teaching and learning and should take advantage of spontaneous opportunities to teach lessons and so forth...