I was astounded when his friend began sounding out words! Not just simple three-letter words, like "cat" and "hat", but longer, more complex words, such as "category" and "dresses". As a former elementary school teacher, I know all too well how children develop at different paces, and I shouldn't compare my son's progress to that of his friend's; but I just couldn't help myself!
His friend attends a Montessori-based preschool; whereas, my little guy receives home schooling from me. As I sat there listening to his preschool-aged friend read word after word, I questioned my approach to nurturing his learning.
I have not provided structured, traditional lessons on letter identification and sound recognition, as my son showed a genuine disinterest towards this type of learning at an early age. So, to prevent stifling his love of learning, I opted to provide my son with authentic learning experiences, where he would be exposed to letter identification and sound recognition through science and social studies explorations.
In addition, I have immersed my son in books. We read every single day, numerous times throughout the day; have since he was in my belly. He can "read" books that we have read together...
...and, his comprehension is amazing. Just this morning, we started a new "Notebook of Doom" chapter book and the first line says, "Alexander stepped out of his air-conditioned house and into a volcano".
Now, I'm afraid it hasn't been enough, and I need to rethink my approach to early childhood literacy!
Since I have very little experience with ECE, I am wondering what some of you think about teaching young children reading. Do you think it best to teach them structured letter-sound lessons, or will they learn these basic skills through exposure to reading and authentic learning opportunities?