Thursday, April 10, 2008

The Importance of Teeth and Losing Them

For those of you who are new to this blog, I have a seven year-old son, named Liam, who has been struggling with reading proficiency this year. The main issue being that our local public school, where he attends first-grade, thinks he should fit the cookie-cutter stereotype that prevails in their curriculum and expectations for kids his age, and he doesn't. Back when his older sister was a toddler, I started researching Waldorf schools, as an option for her future elementary education. Among the many tenets of the Waldorf philosophy on child development and reading readiness, is the stance that children are most capable of deciphering the written word after the loss of the baby teeth. While it is not the only indicator that a Waldorf school would use for determining reading readiness, it is one which certainly has played out perfectly in the lives of my oldest children. Lily struggled greatly with word recognition and recall until just after age seven, when she began losing her bottom and then her top two teeth. She is now a straight-A student, thriving amongst her peers in academics. Liam appears to be following the same pattern, having lost only 3 teeth, the top two falling out last week (well one was pulled out by the gym teacher). Tom and I have seen amazing strides, not only in Liam's ability to read and recall many words, but in his actual interest in doing so. Up until recently, he was not one who showed much interest in street signs or product labels. Now, he seems to enjoy challenging himself and impressing me with his word knowledge and phonics skills.

Public education is designed for the masses. I realize that by sending my child to the local school, funded by my tax dollars, I am relinquishing him into a world where children's uniqueness is not appreciated- as my friend Mary Anne would say "they all get pushed out through the same toothpaste tube." It has become harder for me to do this, watching Liam walk off to a place where the adults in charge of him don't seem to get that he is great- that there's more to him than how fast he can read or what he can't yet do. Like his sister, he is a kid with an amazing maturity level, far beyond his seven years, who would give anyone (but his siblings, of course) the shirt off of his back, if they asked for it or appeared to need it. He has an unbelievable gift in design and can craft magnificent structures from next to nothing. He is great at math- he counts in his head faster than my finance-guru husband (sorry, Tom).

So, as I behold Liam, with his toothless grin, I'm not only gushing over how cute he looks (I am his mother, afterall!), I'm thrilled that he will finally have the ability to leave behind the pressure of "no child left behind."


kirsten said...

hi judy - with the way public schools are, it's a wonder anyone comes through unscathed. terrific kids like liam often get marginalized or are made to feel not good enough becuase they can't keep up with the predetermined cookie-cutter curriculum.

your kids are pretty dang cute & i am excited to hear about how amazing & wonderful they truly are!!

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