Friday, April 9, 2010

ABC, as easy as 123.

ABCs are so important for kids to learn and understand. Of course they learn at school, but at home is where you can really help them get the concepts that eventually lead to reading.

Letters have been a main focus for our 4 year old for the past year or so. He is going into kindergarten next year, as a freshly turned 5 year old, one of the young ones. 2 years of preschool have taught him a lot about how to act in a classroom setting, sharing, picking up, and of course the pledge of allegiance. He loves his friends and his teachers, who are the sweetest ladies in the world.

I had been getting a little nervous as he nears kindergarten, and has shown ZERO interest in letters, numbers, writing, or drawing. Our oldest always loved to draw, and write, where Charlie would rather set up all of his action figures into a neighborhood and then play with them,. He is a really imaginative player. He also loves to make up stories and tall tales. They are just so different, which means they become interested in things in different ways. The things that grabbed Jack's interests may not grab Charlie's. So we had to get a little creative when it came to letters and writing.

We have been reading Baby Einstein's, ABCs of Art, about 4X a week for over a year now. We did this with Jack,when he was in preschool, and he picked them up pretty quick. We read each letter and look at the picture on the page to represent it. In the last 6 months,Charlie has been remembering some of the letters, but then he would forget them and remember others. We reached a milestone last week when he read EVERY LETTER in the book. But reading that book was definitely not the only tool we used. There are so many helpful resources out there, fun and imaginative things that make learning fun.

Some friends gave us, They might be Giants, Here come the ABC's, video/cd, for one of the kids' birthdays. There are songs about different letters that are catchy, fun, and hilarious. Alphabet lost and found makes you want to dance. This was really helpful because i could remind Charlie, BIG FAT......(and he would think of that song)....W! It was probably this video that sparked his recent interest in letters and writing.

I have been sitting down a few times a week and practicing writing letters of the alphabet with charlie. This was frustrating at first, but I tried to make it fun. He could draw something that started with the letter A after writing it. This encouraged him to think creatively about letters and connect a letter with a picture. We only did a few letters at a time and then tried to repeat them the next day.

Back in December I dug out my alphabet cookie cutters, surprisingly they were all there. Charlie had a playdate with his friend Hunter and we made the entire alphabet in cookies! They got to roll out the dough, pick out the letters in alphabetical order and cut them out. We never got to decorating them with frosting, but they tasted good anyway!

Now Charlie can spell and write his own name. He sees letters he recognizes everywhere, and we often play the which letter is this game (Charlie writes a letter in the air and asks me which one it is).

Jack on the other hand is reading chapter books! Reading is the next hurdle after learning letters and it is another slow going process. Repetition and patience are the things to remember when helping your child read. Every night before bed we read to the boys, then it switched to us helping Jack read an easy reader, then he read it himself with a little guidance and now he is a fairly confident reader. I remember being encouraged to SOUND it OUT, but at Jack's school they recommend not doing that. They want the kids to recognize the words and look at the pictures in the books and figure it out that way. I have to admit, I have been known to help him sound the words out, but I try to stick to the same thing they teach at school in order to be consistent. It is crazy to look back to Jack's reading level a year ago and compare it to today, he has improved so much!

Flat Stanley was the first chapter book he read. There are some big words in it, but with our help he got through it. Now he is on his fourth Flat Stanley book! We always discuss what happens in each chapter because I want him to really understand what he is reading and not just zip through the words.

It has been a long road learning ABCs and now reading, but it has been fun and interesting. Each child learns differently and it is important to find what interests them and to go in that direction.