Learning to Read, and Thoughts on School

Little Girl informed me this week that she wants to learn to read, and wants me to teach her. I suppose I should not have been surprised; she has been trying to figure it out on her own for quite a while. Actually, she has a very good concept of the sounds that each letter makes and has started trying to decode words around us. I guess I just didn’t think that she would formally ask me to teach her to read, so I wasn’t prepared. I was relatively academically talented as a kid, but I don’t want to be “that mom” pushing my kids too hard just because I was successful at it. (Of course, neither do I want to get in the way of progress). I want my kids to be joyful, loving, sensible people. Literacy can wait. Unless she doesn’t want it to.

I had popsicle sticks, a Sharpie, and a paper cup. Little Girl had a head full of words that she wanted to recognize. Thus, Little Girl’s “Sight Words” cup was born. It is full of words and names from her environment.

Remember when learning something new felt like the coolest thing EVER?

She plays with this cup of popsicle sticks all the time. She puts them together and matches them up – Mommy/Daddy, her name with her brother’s, Sprout/Dog. Her favorite game to play together is when I lay out sticks and have her pick out the right one (can you find the word “cat?”). She chooses to play “school” almost every day when Little Guy naps, where she calls me Teacher and we have snack, art, music time, math, science, PE and reading. I also push her to school in a laundry bin, AKA the bus. She made up this game herself (or got it from her cousins when she visited them, more likely) and thinks it is the most fun thing she does all day.

When does school cease to be the most fun thing kids do all day? Speaking from a teacher perspective, is there a way to harness this joy in learning new things and let it carry through the schooling experience? When I send her off to school, I want it to feel just like a long day of playing her favorite game. Let’s make it happen.

Do your kids ever surprise you with the things they want to do for fun?

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4 thoughts on “Learning to Read, and Thoughts on School

  1. Honestly, I think they lose a lot of the joy when they’re put in a group of 25-30 other kids. They don’t get the kind of one-on-one attention that they are able to get at home. (This is why I absolutely LOVE teaching private/small group lessons.) They’re also often surrounded by children who may or may not have similar interests, who may not have positive role models at home, and who may misbehave for a variety of reasons.

    If only all children could come from good homes and develop a passion for lifelong learning…

  2. You really need to read Charlotte Mason. She writes a lot about learning being a joyful experience not drudgery. If you google Ambleside Online they have links to free or cheap downloads of her books.

    • I will check her out! I have always felt that this is the case, which is probably why I like teaching so much. Your little guys sure do enjoy learning, so it is especially valuable coming from you 🙂

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