Parent Cue | 10/14/2016 | Traci Bray
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Fresh out of college, my son’s first grade teacher vibrated with enthusiasm for her students. She wore a constant smile, too. I liked her. I liked her so much that I volunteered to be Room Mom.

And then we had our first parent/teacher conference where she looked me in the eye and told me that Thomas, my six-year old, had been placed in the lowest reading group. “I’m sorry, Mrs. Bray, but he’s so far behind. He doesn’t know how to read.” Eyes locked, we sat in awkward silence.

Blink - Eye - Mother - Room

In the blink of an eye I felt like the worst mother in the room.

My first thought was to defend myself. Should I list the reading programs and educational games I’d invested in or whip out my library card to show her how well-worn it was? I wanted to explain (or justify) why enrichment activities and preschool had routinely been pushed aside in favor of playing cars and trains and Legos.

Thomas - Interest - Towns - Create - Stories

Thomas had shown little interest in learning to read, so I chose not to push. Instead, I let him build tiny towns and create stories in miniature. In short, I let him play.

Had I handicapped my son? Would he miss opportunities because I hadn’t insisted he learn to read? Had I wasted valuable time?

Expert - Crowd—or - Victim - Grader - Tutoring

Listening to the expert crowd—or falling victim to my mom-guilt—might have led me to overcorrect. I could have signed my first grader up for private tutoring or committed to a rigorous catch-up-quick reading program.

Fortunately, I had a wise mother who assured (and reassured) me not to do either of those things. “He’ll do things when he’s ready, Traci,” my mom would say. It was true for walking, talking, and potty-training. Why would it be any different with him learning to read? Mom had a point.

So, instead of cannonballing into the...
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