Our 3 year old recently started asking me about words. While reading books at home, or driving by road signs, or seeing food labels in stores, she’d ask: “What does that say, Mom? What is that word? Does it start with b or d? Look mom! A for Addie! Does that say Addie?” As her interest grew, I started toying with the idea of doing a quasi homeschool preschool reading thing. (You can tell that it’s very official and formal and whatnot.) But, I was kind of hesitant. Honestly, I didn’t want to give up a bunch of my time to prepping pre-reading materials for my 3 year old.
Plus, I generally lean towards just letting kids learn through play. They have the rest of their lives to be in school, for the love. Just let them bounce balls, build legos, and play at the park. There are all kinds of studies and research about the ways young children learn, but most people agree… little kids learn through a combination of play and hands-on, real life, practical experiences. I’m weary of the “academicization of kindergarten,” and the push to teach littler and littler kids developmentally inappropriate concepts with developmentally inappropriate techniques. (Nerd alert: I used to be a teacher, and I find everything related to teaching methods, school choice, learning styles, and curriculums SUPER interesting. Isn’t that what you read about in your free time?)
Because of her interest, though, I started researching the idea of doing pre-reading activities at home. And by “research,” I mean I googled it, read some articles, and made a decision. Like I said, it’s all very official and formal… and whatnot.
Here’s what I landed on based on a bunch of my super official and formal reading:
- She is very interested in books, words, letters, coloring, writing, cutting, gluing, art projects, etc… (If I ever suggest any of those activities, she jumps at the chance!) While you would teach and encourage the average 6 or 7 year old in phonics and pre-reading or reading, even if they didn’t want to, it wouldn’t be a good idea to push a 3 year old in phonics if they weren’t interested. It’s just not developmentally necessary.
- Some combination of phonics-based and sight-word based reading is how most early readers learn. They tend to memorize a handful of books, know their alphabet and some letter sounds, ask questions about certain words, and start to connect the dots on what printed language actually means.
- It’s okay to practice some basic preschool skills at home, even if I’m not an expert in teaching 3 year olds, which I am definitely not.
- We will probably make a lot of mistakes – she’ll be fine.
- There is a ridiculously overwhelming amount of material on the internet about preschool at home.
All that to say – we decided to start “learning time.” I can’t even bring myself to call it “homeschool,” because, did I mention she’s 3? It’s all very relaxed and flexible. Our daily time of letters, tracing, patterning, counting, and gluing is not meant to replace preschool. We may or may not choose to home school in the future. For now, it’s just something I’ve decided to invest a little time and energy into because she wants to do it and I don’t mind getting stuff ready for it. So, why not!?
We’re 4 weeks in, and this is what we’ve been up to.
Some of the concepts I’ve seen her make progress in already are:
- identifying uppercase versus lowercase
- beginning word sounds (ex: turtle starts with T)
- identifying sight words from learning time other places – books we’re reading, signs while we’re driving, etc…
- identifying numbers above 10
- tracing & correct pencil grip
- “print awareness” – i.e. left to right, top to bottom, words that are upside down, one to one correlation
- automatic recognition of how many things there are if it’s a group of 1, 2, or 3 objects (4 or more, she still has to count to figure it out)
- holding and using scissors
Whether or not you’re using a “preschool reading curriculum,” with your kiddos, it is so fun to watch them grow, learn new things, figure stuff out, and turn from babies into little people. AmIRight? What are your favorite ways to see your kids grow? Anyone else trying out school-ish type things at home, either formally or informally?