Wednesday, July 11, 2012

the miracle of learning

it's amazing to watch your child learn a new skill.
this past year if we were in canada, noah would have been {probably} in junior kindergarten at a public school. he'd probably have learnt how to count higher than he can now, more social skills and possibly how to read small words. however, since we were moving to uganda, i decided to take on homeschooling. i figured, it's just j/k. how hard can it be?
we've been pretty lax this year. reading lots. doing crafts. playing games. noah really likes starfall, a website that teaches letters and sounds and then moves on to reading and it's all quite interactive. mostly we've just been enjoying life together and learning about day to day stuff like dressing yourself {he now completely dresses and undresses himself every morning and night! which also brings us to the dilemma of multiple outfit changes a day}, making the bed, folding laundry and helping with kitchen duties like setting the table and cooking & baking. i was amazed the other day when noah helped me fold all his own clothes - from shirts and socks to underwear and shorts!
sometimes jamie and i have worried that perhaps i'm not structured or organized enough with his curriculum {which is...not really a curriculum at all, to be honest} and when the evil monster called Comparison pops up and we see what our friends' kids are learning or can do we think, uh oh. maybe he's behind. even though i know he's a smart kid who picks up on things quite quickly.
and then it happens.
he starts to see words and recognize them.
and he's now asking how to spell certain words so we sound them out and he just writes it down. usually just remembering the letters from his head.

this is his "STOP" sign that he wrote on his own and then asked how to spell "STOP". i was so impressed that he figured out the 'O', 'T', and 'P' all on his own.

this is noah's "zoo" that we sounded out together. {animals include a sloth, a wooly mammoth, an elephant and a giraffe}

later on noah asked to spell out the word "wild" and eventually gave up {after writing two "M"s} but i'm encouraged with his interest in words and spelling and amazed that it really does just happen

my question for you is, do you correct your child flipping a letter/word around {like in noah's "zoo", the "z" is flipped and looks like an "s"} or do you wait until later when s/he is more confident with writing? when and how does correction fit into learning? is it dependent on your child's temperament {easy going or highly sensitive, etc.} or is there a general rule of thumb that should be followed?
for me i've just encouraged noah and at this point i'm not worrying about him flipping his letters around. i'll probably write out words for him to see and continue to show him, rather than tell him how to write the letters properly. 


  1. Wow Vanessa, he's really perceptive at drawing and writing! Great job Noah! :) He makes his people with eyes, nose and mouth and with arms, hands, legs and feet. His printing good too, I can see that it's zoo, and that this is the picture of what it looks like to him.

    I think you are right though, you can't compare your kids to others and what/how they have been learning. Really, the only thing that works is to "loosely" check and see if they are moving along with checkpoints that are there for all kids, and help them work on things that they want to learn or may struggle with. You are right, that every kid is different, and they may learn things at a different pace than others. You sound like you are teaching Noah by your example, and he's for sure understanding and producing what you are showing him. Good job Momma!!

    Our house is different, our girls have a Science/Math Teacher for a Daddy, and so we usually end up being more structured here about learning, just by default. Also, being an English Major myself, I do tend to "teach and correct" when it comes to learning to read and write. I don't think that it's the right way, just the way that we do it here. Calli write's her C's backwards right now, and her A's more like H's and I do correct her. I start with praise and affirmation of her attempt and hard work, and then help her correct the mistake, and finally I let her attempt the action again on her own. I don't expect perfection, and she enjoys trying to spell her name "the way Mommy does". We have been practicing penmanship by printing out traceable letters and numbers and letting her copy them and get a feel for writing.

    1. I can imagine you and Nick being a bit more structured, that just makes sense.
      And I think that while Noah has a love of learning and reading, he's also got that perfectionist first-born streak which means if he's going to try something NEW, he needs to be able to do it really well. So I usually let him have a go at trying something new without any correction and once it's "old news" or he's had a few tries, I'll correct backwards letters or give him a bit of helpful advice.
      I can see how Calli would want to do it "the way Mommy does". That is so cute and such a little girl thing that she would do. :)

  2. Emily just finished SK and has trouble remembering which way some of her numbers and letters are supposed to be written. At her parent teacher interview in the spring the teacher said we should be correcting more now as she was approaching grade one.

    When our oldest, Hannah, was in kindergarten I didn't realize that it was far more important for her to sound out a word and spell it incorrectly than for me to tell her every letter to spell the word correctly.

    I love seeing how their mind perceives/hears the sounds. All three of my kids had trouble hearing the "tr" soundin the word "tree". My two oldest wrote it :trchee. My youngest spelled it "chree". Cute, right?

    Sounds like you're doing a great job, vanessa. And we all suffer from the Comparison monster. Maybe not all of the time....but he creeps out every once in a while. That nasty thing!! :)

    1. Melissa, I read somewhere that kids are more capable of learning to read long before they are physically able to write, so I've always really tried (as you said) to teach Noah what sounds letters make and to sound out words, even if he doesn't copy me or do it himself at first. Now we do it together and I encourage him to make the sounds.

      And TOTALLY cute how your girls spelled "tree".

  3. Coming from the older generation, that Comparison monster is huge!! However, I also had to fight it off when I chose NOT to send any of the 4 of you kids to JK!! and guess what?? I got reports in the fall of SK that you were all 'cautious or shy or hesitant to try' etc, but by winter, you were all mid to high leaders in the class! So the conclusion: allow children to learn by structured playing, do lots of reading and crafts, teach when they are alongside you in working or shopping or driving... there are teachable moments everywhere!!
    Yes, it was affirming to see that I was doing the right thing for MY kids as I went against the grain, against 'professional' opinion (which always changes). Do what makes sense to you and take your cues from each individual child! If you put a crayon in their hands and they create anything, then you're good! keep up the great work!

  4. Hi Vanessa!

    Just saw your post... Kaitlyn was (and still sometimes does) write letters and/or her whole name backwards. We saw an Occupational therapist a while ago since Kaitlyn was having some fine motor difficulties and the O.T. indicated that it is completely normal and nothing to be worried about... and will correct itself as the child begins to understand that the letters are more than just configurations of lines (i.e., as they better understand that the letters are symbols of sound and make words)... practising correct letter formation is helpful of course! depending on what works for your child - there are lots of creative ways to help reinforce correct letter formation.

    Noah is doing great and a bright boy - already figuring out how to spell things by his own initiative - way to go Noah!!



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