My five year old daughter, Araya, has always been a dream student. I started teaching her at home early on and she has always thrived on traditional methods. It’s no surprise that she spits out ten-dollar words and complicated but correct sentence structures almost daily. She’s attending Pre-K at public school now, and she loves it
When Araya started school, I decided it was time to start some one on one work with three year old Montana. She is so kind, and has a very quick wit and a sophisticated sense of humor, making her seem older than she is. I thought she’d take right to “doing school” with Mama just as Araya had, so I fired up the printer and got some preschool worksheets. Montana was waiting patiently at the table when I sat down with her “schoolwork” and a crayon. She took one look, got up and ran away. Yikes. This is uncharted territory for me but I could see I was going to have to be a little sneaky about teaching this one.
Since I believe that when one can read one can learn anything, I am mostly concerned with laying the groundwork for early reading. First and foremost I read aloud to both of my children nearly every day. I started this when the oldest was about two weeks old. It familiarizes them with proper grammar and rythms of the english language, fosters the ability to focus for increasing periods of time, and leads to a desire to read independently.
Montana is at the stage now, where she wants to read on her own so my next challenge is to help her recognize the letters of the alphabet even out of order, and know which sound each represents. Araya was more than happy with “All about the letter A” type worksheets, but this isn’t going to work for Montana (yet) so I’ve had to find other ways to sneak the letters in.
My favorite sneaky trick is a video I found on You Tube. Who’d have thought? I play it twice in the morning and twice in the evening. She thinks she’s just watching a fun cartoon, but she’s already singing the letters and thier sounds right along with the video, and even on her own throughout the day. I am so thankful for the internet!
I have also made a game of using phonics to talk about what we’re doing. For instance she might ask me for a glass of water, and I reply ” I’d love to help you get some water. W says w, w-w-water.” Or I might say “lets fold some laundry. L says l, l-l-laundry.” Sometimes she rolls her eyes, sometimes she laughs, sometimes she repeats it. She may think I’m being silly, but her brain is so spongy right now that she can’t help learning whatever she hears and sees.
After a while I’ll start ask what letter things start with to guage where she is, and which letters need extra attention. When she has all the letters and sounds down, I’ll start her on blending. If she has gotten past her aversion to structured learning, we’ll start with simple consonant-vowel-consonant words on one side of a flash card and a picture on the other. If she is still against tradition, I’m thinking we’ll create flashcards and post them around the house to read any time we pass them during our day. I suppose I won’t know for sure until the time comes.
Although it’s a challenge to find ways around a kid’s aversion to “book learning”, it’s one I enjoy. It’s so fun to watch little minds grow and change. I really look forward to helping Montana find her learning style. I think she’ll be a hands-on learner, and I think it’s a wonderful way to learn. I just hope the public school system doesn’t assign her a label since she doesn’t want to sit at a desk and do worksheets. I’m probably getting ahead of myself anyway, she may love classic methods when she’s old enough for public school. That is, if we’re still doing public school when she’s old enough.