Ds4 is now recognizing the letters of the ABC, knows a lot of the sounds, and is starting to copy the letters on his own. A week or two ago he brought me a scrap of paper that he had copied letters onto, and asked me what it spelled. I sounded it out, and then he went off to copy more letters (randomly), bringing them to me each time to ‘read’ it. He asked me to write different words for him to copy, and after a few days of this, progressed to copying simple sentences. He wrote a ‘letter’ and left it at the home of a friend nearby; it’s nice to see how naturally this happens with just a little support from me.
I love seeing how a child progresses through the stages of reading readiness when he’s engaged and interested – it’s so exciting! I don’t actively teach reading because I find it works out well for our children to respond to their interests rather than impose my timeline on them, and they’ve each taught themselves to read somewhere between the age of 5 – 8. I definitely could help them learn earlier by being more actively involved in teaching them, but reading is fun and I don’t think it should become a chore and disconnected from the purpose – the point is to have fun or gain knowledge. The primary reading readiness that I do is reading lots of books to the kids from the time they are young – ds1.5 has been sitting independently thumbing through books for months. Once they know reading is a great activity, they’re going to naturally seek to learn to read on their own at some point.
When ds4 draws a picture, I often ask him to tell me about it and then label significant parts of his picture, and sometimes I transcribe the story of what the picture is about as he describes it to me next to the picture. (I don’t yet do this with ds3 – I only verbalize what he tells me he’s drawing.) By doing this, it shows him I’m interested about what’s important to him, it helps me understand what he’s thinking about, and it at the same time it teaches that words mean something, that they relate to the picture on the page.
Last week my husband took this concept further in a way that both he and ds4 enjoyed. They sat down together and wrote a book! Ds4 told dh the story, bit by bit. As ds decided on an idea, they would pause while dh drew a simple illustration, asking ds4 to clarify what was happening and what he should put into the drawing. (Eg – what was Backpack Bear eating, what did he buy?). The book is about 6 or 7 pages long, and made simple of 8 x 11 paper folded in half, then taped to keep it all together – not complicated. On the cover it says that it was written by Daddy and ds4, and on the very back cover, ds4 suggested that they write a summary of what the book was about (I guess he picked that up somewhere, but I don’t know how).
This was not only a nice bonding activity for them, but ds4 loves this book! He keeps it in a plastic zippered pouch and a few times a day brings it out and reads it to me. He of course has the entire thing memorized and feels so special to have written a book! He loves that his own words and ideas turned into a book – there’s a real sense of ownership and pride.