Tuesday, May 19, 2015

I'm Afraid It Hasn't Been Enough...

Today's Slice of Life is a reflective journey inside myself, both as a mother and a teacher. You can read more slices over at Two Writing Teachers, or you can share your own!

Yesterday, my son and I ran into a friend of his that we had not seen in over a year. They are both five, born within a week of each other. While her mom and I chatted, the two of them reconnected very quickly. Both lovers of literature, they gathered a pile of books from the "take one, leave one" shelf and settled onto the couch for a read.

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".


My son erupted in laughter over this first sentence. When I asked him why he was laughing, he responded, "Because, Alexander didn't walk into a volcano. He stepped outside where it is as hot as 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?

8 comments:

  1. I don't teach early childhood, (I teach 4th grade), but I feel that you are doing everything right. Every child develops at different stages and there are many ways that your son is gifted. I honestly feel that we push some things on kids too early and that these authentic experiences that you are providing your son will be of more benefit to him in the end. Just keep reading and introducing new vocabulary and he will be just fine -- or better! Good luck!!

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    1. Thanks so much for the encouragement, Jennifer! My experience is also upper elementary, fifth and sixth graders, so this whole ECE thing is new to me :-)

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  2. I used to teach kindergarten (and now teach 4th grade) and I agree with Jennifer. Kids are ready and interested in reading at different ages. In Finland they don't teach reading until age 7! We are sometimes a little nuts with all we try to cram into an early childhood program. What you are doing sounds not only appropriate, but wonderful. Your son is very lucky!

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    1. Thanks Becky! I love the little nugget about teaching reading in Finland! I'm always very interested in what other countries do! Thanks for sharing :-)

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  3. I teach Pre Kindergarten and have also taught kindergarten. Trust yourself. You are doing exactly the right thing for your son. While some children may be ready to read young, you've realized your son isn't ready for that.
    Loving books and enjoying them together is exactly what he needs. Now go read him another book!

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    1. Ha Ha! I love your advice at the end, Lori :-) I just put him to bed with a book! Well, two more chapters in our Notebook of Doom chapter book! Thanks for the response.

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  4. I teach Young Fives Kindergarten and also do first grade reading recovery/reading support. I think the best thing you are doing for your son is instilling a passion for reading. I tell my parents that there is no substitute for modelling a passionate reading life. Then, follow the child. There is a lot of research that points to the value of play at this very early age. Then, start to introduce reading skills through writing. If your son is interested in volcanos, research the topic and have him create a book about volcanos. Help him do some labelling. Using sound spelling to write/label helps him to hear sounds in writing and also read.

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    1. Oh my gosh, that's exactly what I did with him over the weekend, Pamela! We researched, observed, drew, and labeled flower parts :-) I did have him help me sound out the letters and he wrote the title, but I wrote the labels. I'm feeling much better about my approach! Thanks so much for the feedback :-)

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