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.


Jane said...

Sounds alot like my little guy...if I have learned anything about parenting Jesse it is to wait for him, he likes to learn at his own pace- for us it was more potty training than ABC's!
There are two shows that we watch around here that I think have helped Jesse master his letters (along with creative "fun" teaching tools!): Between the Lions (love this one myself- it is a mix btw Sesame Street and the Muppets) and Super Why, both PBS shows.

Sullivan's Mom said...

it's too bad watching tv is from the devil jane! (just kidding - I'm a huge fan of Baby Einstein)

as an early learner who is married to a late learner, I say I would have rather been a late learner. there's something to be said for having to figure something out - figure it out in a way that works for yourself. It's the ones that are smart early on that turn into the lazy ones later. (case in point - MOI.)

EEEEMommy said...

He sounds very tactile. Tracing letters in sand with his finger, cutting shapes out of sandpaper and having him trace those with his finger, forming the letters with pipe cleaners or wiki sticks,...

Your perspective is fabulous though! He will learn to read, he's not "behind", he has his own unique strengths and weaknesses, and today's "weaknesses" can be tomorrow's strengths. There's plenty of time for stressing over academics; the time to be a little boy is so brief, allow him to enjoy it, and when you start to get stressed about the alphabet, pull out the squirt gun yourself and have a water fight. :)

JoshHan said...

Just keep at it at with him and it will "click" for him. I remember when I went to Korean school, trying to make sense of all those strange characters and trying to read Korean. One day it just all clicked and there it was, I could figure Korean words out! Patience and perseverance is key!

words and streets said...

huh, interesting about that late vs early learner, sullivan's mom... anyways, all of our kids learn something late, right? indeed, he is who he is. and he is a delightful boy, for sure. thanks for sharing and for being transparent. it's so easy to get frustrated, i know!!!!! thank God He is more patient with us.
(allie s.)

The Moser Family said...

Great perspective and goals! It makes me mad when my frustration with my kids in a educational setting brings out the worst in me. Unfortunately, the anger is usually unleased somehow on them which is sin. Thank God for His grace and His abundant love for our kids in spite of who he chose for their parents! :)