I could use some help in determining whether of not my son is really ready for school. He is 5 1/2 right now, has a spring birthday and we will start grade 1 next fall (2011). I have always been firmly in the “wait until the child is older” camp so to speak, even before I heard about CM. I am starting to second guess myself now, because he’s been asking to learn to read (we did start that this fall) and he’s been found writing his name all over the place, the last one on the side of the house with a nail. Eek! I finally got to the bottom of why he’s been doing this when he told me “Mom, I like E’s!” “Oh, you mean you want to learn to write more letters?” “YES!” I also think he’s ready for longer and more challenging read-aloud books. And he just acts plain bored. Boys with their extra energy seem to be an exceptionally bad combination with boredom. In addition, winter is coming and as we live in the north that means cold and being inside for us. We also have baby #3 due this winter.
My husband is asking if I can’t “start” some school earlier than we planned with our son. He (DH) is concerned our boy could drive me nuts in the meantime and feels his brain needs some engaging. I on the other hand had thought until recently that what I have been doing (outside time/read-alouds/habits and adding in the reading instruction) was enough. I did plan out a “light” Kindergarten year for him this spring, but I ended up scraping the entire thing (except the above mentioned, and it really wasn’t anything more other than a specific Bible plan, French audio CDs, math games) because since summer we’ve had a series of difficult and challenging circumstances hit our family.
Am I the one dragging my feet here and missing that my son may be READY to start some kind of “school” earlier than I expected? Could anyone offer some pointers for knowing when a child is ready for formal schooling? Aside from the age 6 guideline?suzukimomParticipant
I am of the opinion, that if he is asking, then start. Writing/Drawing on walls is considered in Montessori circles to be a child pleading to learn to write…. and my “wall drawer” stopped when we started a writing program. Along with this, I say don’t press. If they want a lesson one day, do it. If not, don’t force it.
My under-6 child is doing a Kindergarten Math program (she begs for it every day), handwriting (she writes the letter 4 times – circles the best, then writes 4 more trying to make it as good or better than the one she circled…), reading, and I am reading a book to her. She asks for all of it. It takes maybe a half hour total. Oh, and we are also doing Drawing.Sara B.Participant
I agree with suzukimom. He definitely sounds ready. My kids are 7, 6, nearly 4, and 17 mths. I try to be very discerning when they show signs of wanting to do some more formal learning. Now the writing on the wall stuff? Didn’t know about that one… Wish I had… LOL But I have started some writing with my almost 4yo, and she is doing very well with it. She is actually ahead of where I want to be with her. 😛 She is learning part of it just by watching her older sisters, though, not because I have “tried” to do anything with her. I wish I had started sooner with her.
Now my 17-mth-old (a boy) is a whole other story….. roflartParticipant
I wouldn’t wait either, but I also wouldn’t do anything very formal. It really isn’t all or nothing. My favorite book about starting teaching is The Three R’s by Ruth Beechick. It’s really about just teaching them naturally when they are ready.
Have fun!Rachel WhiteParticipant
If he wants to write, get him chalk and a board. Using the large lined paper (which is free online to print out), use a large crayon and show him the direction to write in or print out one from the web for him to trace over. You need to decide what “style” you want to accustom him to. I think if you look at his natural tendency and then picking a style from there would make it an easier h/w experience, IMO. Many styles can be found online. Is he left handed?
You’re correct that you have been doing “school”. Use magnets to also help towards his reading and future spelling, also math magnets-learning his numbers. Lauri toys are great for little learners, too.
Gotta go for now-duty calls (actually Geography to be specific)
I am in agreement with the other moms here – we have 4 and 5 1/2 year olds that have started some basic learning – writing, math, reading. Our five year old has been reading for a while, and our just turned four year old is learning how.
We have had other children who didn’t read until they were almost seven.
If he wants to learn, I would teach him. Just don’t force it.LindseyDParticipant
I am also in agreement that it sounds like he is ready to start something. I wouldn’t schedule a full curriculum by any means, but there are lots of things you can do right now that would satisfy his need to learn.
- Try the small chalkboard idea for learning to write something other than his E’s. If he can’t hold the chalk or doesn’t like the chalk/chalkboard (I hated writing on chalkboards as a child, and still do), try a fat dry erase marker and board or letting him make letters and numbers with his index finger in a sheet pan with cornmeal, flour, or sand.
- Give him some math manipulatives such as beans, buttons, or blocks. Show him that he can group them and then count how many are in each group. Then you can challenge him a bit more: “There are two beans in this group and two beans in that group. How many beans are there altogether?”
- Rachel’s idea for using letter magnets is a great one. Give him the A, T, B, C, P, and M. Show him that he can make rhyming words by changing the first letter. Tell him the A says “aaa” and the T says “t” (not “tuh”). Repeat with the O and T, I and T, A and P, etc.
- Of course, starting with a great selection of books is a given. You’re probably already reading to him daily, but maybe you could step it up. Read to him longer and try to develop his habit of attention so that when the time comes to do full-blown school, he’ll have mastered the art of paying attention.
- If he seems eager to learn to read, we had great success with Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons. The lessons are very CM-friendly as they last 5-15 minutes each. Who knows? He might be reading by the time you get to that planned Kindergarten in the spring.
- Grab a globe or a large wall map and begin to show him places he might be familiar with. Show him where your town is. If you pray for a missionary or have family who live abroad, point their locations out as well. Let him trace a “route” with his finger from your home to those places.
- My kids love to check out picture books of bugs, animals, sea creatures, dinosaurs, etc. They will sit for hours and just flip through the pages. Ds can read, so he really enjoys reading the books to himself as well as his sister. Your son might enjoy books like that too.
Those are just a few ideas off the top of my head to keep “school” gentle and simple at this point. If he’s hungry to learn, by all means, feed his appetite!
Wow, thanks everyone for specific suggestions, it’s also nice to feel I have “green light” to start without pushing things along too much, and my husband will be relieved.
Thinking back, this spring I’d planned out a “light Kindergarten” and had been planning to start it this year anyway. But when life got difficult I ended up giving up on most of it and left only the outside play/read-alouds/habits. So I guess at one point I did anticipate he’d be ready for more – I just wasn’t expecting the interest in writing at all or that his desire to read would be as strong as it is at the moment. So I’ll go with these and add them into what we’ve already doing. I could easily enough add in a chapter book as well. The drawing he’d love and the map is a great idea. There’s really no reason I couldn’t pull out my Kindergarten “plans” this winter when cabin fever sets in. Why that thought didn’t occur to me before now I don’t know, maybe I’d completely given up on it.
Thank you again for the ideas and I’m glad to know he is in fact ready and I can do more without feeling I’m pushing academics.Rachel WhiteParticipant
If I could quickly expand on two things already mentioned. In addition to putting up a wall map of the World and of the US, for more hands-on learning, Geopuzzles has puzzles good for that age http://www.timberdoodle.com/Geopuzzles_p/120.htm or for just the USA, getting a wooden puzzle http://www.amazon.com/Melissa-Doug-Wooden-Jigsaw-Puzzle/dp/B00000JBLI was an early hit at my house at that age, starting an interest in geography.
Then use those tools when reading a book (or watching a tv show) and show him where the location where the events take place in the story your reading; makes a connection.
And also you mentioned Wintertime. How about starting some nature study in the Winter? Have him draw what he sees; like Cardinals in the snow. Feed the birds and practice bird watching as they get food in Winter, using a guide to start identifying them, keep track of the stars and begin learning the night sky-much easier to start in the Winter. My son liked the H.A. Rey book: http://www.amazon.com/Find-Constellations-H-Rey/dp/054713178X/ref=pd_sim_b_15, my son read it around 7, but there may be others for a slightly younger age. There’s a great book that has an audio with beautiful illustrations for N. American birds and their sounds, too. I can get the name of it tomorrow if you like.
Also, Backyard Scientist is a series by Jane Hoffman has experiment books for his age, too. Good for Winter days.
Just remember, your sparking the love of learning right now and the ideas are only as limitless as your imagination.
Thanks Rachel for expanding on the map idea. Since he likes puzzles already the Geopuzzles would be right up his alley! He also has always been interested in birds, and we’ve fed birds during winter for several years now – I’ll look into how I can expand on this for him during winter. I think I might know the bird book with sounds you mentioned, I saw one in Costco (of all places) Is it this one?
You’re right learning the stars is often easier in winter, I used do this myself and was spoiled living in the south during my last years of high school – not as comfy to sit outside at night up here! Maybe I can send him out this winter with his Dad (who also likes stars himself).suzukimomParticipant
I also vote for the Rey Constellation book (and for older kids, his book called “the stars”.
The way he draws the constellations seems to make it so easy to see them. My son and I read this book last year (he was age 6), and he loved it. He can easily pick out 3 constellations from the sky even now (And we really didn’t do much outside looking for them last year)… Ursa Major, Orion, and Cassiopia. Although the book does teach several more, I think that is a great start.
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