Friday, April 25, 2008
A is for...what?
N has never been interested in learning the usual preschool things- colors, numbers, letters. For the longest time everything was "Lellow". We were thrilled when he started recognizing other colors at the age of 2 1/2- we thought he was colorblind until then. He can count up to ten and then he does the usual mish-mash of "teen" numbers (11, 14, 16, 17, 18, 19). And he knows how to count down from 10 as well. And he can sing the alphabet, although missing a couple of letters. Ok, fine, not exactly advanced, but somewhere in the continuum of what 4 year olds know. The real problem starts with associating symbols for letters and numbers. He knows "0" and "O". He knows N is for his name. And he can write his name. That is it. I had hoped that a year in preschool would help him pick up recognizing the upper case letters and numbers from 1-10, but apparently not. Dora and Blue's Clues haven't helped either. So in an effort to help my son start kindergarten not completely illiterate, I am giving his schooling a real priority for the next year. Because, believe me, it will take a year.
I had been recruiting E to help me out, and she patiently went through A B, and C on the magna doodle while in the car for a good half an hour. He did not get it. The boy still did not know which one was which when she wrote them randomly. She had him say it, trace it, write it, nothing.
So this brought me to this past Monday morning. I was determined to get him to recognize a letter A. So between the time that E left for school and I had to drive him to preschool (half an hour), I worked on the magna doodle with him myself. It was not pretty. I am ashamed to say I ended up getting pretty frusterated and angry. He ended up going to school in tears, and still not knowing what an A was. I promised him when I dropped him off that I would make it fun in the afternoon.
So after lunch I put K down for her nap and printed out a book that I found online. We colored it together, read it through and then practiced writing some upper and lower case A's. He then asked what we were going to do to learn the letter A (in a fun way). I said, "Well, I was thinking maybe we could paint it, or make it in playdough." He thought a second and said,"How about make it with blocks?" I thought that was a great idea and so we took out the blocks and made letter A's with them. Then that afternoon when he was outside playing he ran over to me excitedly,"Mama! Come see what I made!" I followed him to the patio where he pointed out a perfect capital and lowercase A that he had made using his water gun. I was so thrilled! I am planning to start an alphabet book with him this afternoon and have him cut things out of a magazine that start with A, and glue them to a page. I think it finally stuck. He has been pointing A's out to me all week, and next Monday we will move to B.
I have to keep reminding myself that N is N. He will learn this, and I have to be patient with him. It is such a temptation to look at 4 year old Johnny who is writing books and, Jenny who taught herself how to read at 3, and feel like my son doesn't measure up. It is so easy to compare him to other kids his age and wish that he was hitting all the milestones at the same pace. But that is not the kind of mom I want to be. If it takes him a little longer I want to help him learn through encouragement instead of shame. I want to be on his side instead of fighting him. I want to know when to push him to reach, and when to be content in the level he has achieved. But most of all I want him to know I love him, no matter when he learns his ABC's, or how to read, or how to do algebra.