Huge day for me, my daughter has always since two weeks old been reading select sight words by sight, but today she learned phonics.
I was about to teach her and my sister video called us, I asked for her help and went to the kitchen for a coffee, when I came back she had learned to read by sounding out words.
An interesting milestone. In China phonics doesn’t usually happen, each word is remembered alone, it’s a hard system, takes a few hundred times to remember each word, brain scans of native speakers show it’s even draining for them to read Chinese. The Phoneticians gave some of the world their alphabet, which my daughter learned the sounds of everyday as I drove home from work I sang the alphabet song phonetically all the way home for an hour. But today while I made a coffee my sister helped my daughter learn to blend the sounds.
The way I explained it was that letters got married, like “a” and “t” in “at”, then they invited other friends for dinner even if they were single, like “c” in “cat”. We went through a lot of “at” words (cat, fat, bat, sat, pat, vat) as examples, then went through “un” words (fun, sun bun), but for sure no one told her and she hadn’t known “run” she sounded it out herself and it was kind of an emotional moment. My face shows nothing, but inside I was really proud of her. Not because she is early, but because she is growing to a stage that makes since for her life. My family had me reading two years before my daughter, but it was 1. The only thing we learned vs part of many things and 2. Perhaps done in a way that didn’t allow “balanced development” meaning I didn’t mix in playing with other kids or drawing, it was just reading and more reading and more reading. I think in neither case was the reading done to show off, my grandmother wrote children’s books and I think there was just a genuine love of reading books on both sides of my family. I know in my case I didn’t teach reading to my four year old because she would tick a box a year early, she was interested in words and would look or ask, so I don’t see a reason not to explore that interest. Often we would drop it as other things were going on, and when we did study it was brief.
I’m glad that my daughter is reading, but I would have been fine with it happening later. My sister started at 8, I started at 2, she had a better high school and college GPA than I did and earns more, so really it’s just a tool, that can be wonderful, but isn’t the most important thing in the world.
That was a good moment, my son learned to walk about a week ago and it was a similar moment, happy to see my kids unfolding like a healthy plant unfolding it’s leaves and stem that were already wrapped up in the seed just waiting to come out.
We also started some flowers my daughter bought seeds for from Dollar Tree for .25 each, which have their first two leaves today.
It feels like a really satisfying time as a mother right now, spring flowers blooming, my baby walking, my daughter reading, my husband being thoughtful and considerate lately.
Each week we have a “stoic quote” this week’s didn’t match my Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday, but it matches my day today:
“It is in times of security that the spirit should be preparing itself for difficult times; while fortune is bestowing favors on it is then is the time for it to be strengthened against her rebuffs.”– Seneca
I was sick on Monday and got through the day with some grace, let myself recover Tuesday, took another 5 mile walk with the kids Wednesday, and the old me would have went back to exercise today, but the current me spent the day doing extra reading practice.
There is a saying by Magda Gerba about vaulting for diamonds, she imagined someone high vaulting and creating diamonds with the leap of faith.
I don’t know if I’ve ever done that before, but I did it today with teaching reading.
I got this feeling that today if we went on from 10-12 practicing instead of 10-11 practicing and then exercise at 11 that my daughter could “get it” understand how the blocks we always casually exposed her to all worked together at a basic level. And it worked. I saw my sister when I said, “we are just going to learn to read today no matter how long it takes” I imagine she thought I was being crazy and uptight, but I didn’t feel like that, I just felt like it was the right time.
Today I looked up a simple preschool curriculum and didn’t hate the one I found first, I am in a “unschooling crowd” but I’m not really an “unschooler”. I didn’t want to base my curriculum on the 27th best country’s (U.S.) ideas, instead I researched Finland, China and Australia a lot and started my curriculum over 4 years ago. It was things like painting, nothing strict or like training seals to honk horns… but now there is “common core standards” meaning the whole country requires some basic concepts to be done at certain ages, like counting to a certain number (100 in kindergarten). I don’t think counting to 100 is the most important thing to learn in kindergarten, I think team work is more important, but I wanted to have a rough idea what the requirements were even as I don’t want to be driven towards them, I am willing to incorporate them into what I do find valuable so that my child has some common knowledge on the same pace with her friends. So, having synced with kindergarten common core, I decided only today to go back and check what other preschools were doing.
For better or worse it was extremely similar to what we did as well without having read any guides at all. My goal was introduce the world a bit at a time and build the foundation for skills such as drawing, communication, math ext. I used Portland University’s guide and found that we were 73% done with their standards already. What we could keep doing more of is below:
🧮 Identifying and creating patterns (AB, AABB, ABAB, etc.).
📚 Learning to spell and write their name.
📚 Repeat and memorize nursery rhymes and finger plays.
🔬 Exploration with microscopes, magnifying glasses and prisms.
🔬 Watch a plant grow, making a daily picture of how it changes.
🔬 Learn to measure ingredients for a special snack time.
🎭 Learn traditional songs and create hand motions or dance movements to accompany them.
🎭 Explore and use musical instruments like rhythm sticks.
🎭 Find other materials to practice rhythm and having a visual way to see it through scarves or bean bags.
🧑🤝🧑 Work together on a simple project where each child has a part to accomplish and put together.
🧑🤝🧑 Be able to express their personal information like school, and where they live by city state and country.
🧑🤝🧑 Exploring what kinds of people work in their town and what kinds of jobs they have.
🧑🤝🧑 Identify types of transportation
What we had been doing was biology, the bodies organs, identifying fact vs fiction and learning to identify poems from other writing types.
⭐ Biology: Organs – Fact vs Fiction – Poems
My school’s name is “Polestar Preschool,” it’s philosophy is becoming more refined today, it’s a matter of teaching advanced concepts to create a reason for basic ones and avoid (but not exclude) route memorization.
Meaning looking forward at biology I can show the pattern of trees that repeats in veins, I can show the cholera outbreaks that match snowy mildew on leafs, I can look for significant patterns to teach and fulfill the way I wanted to teach at the same time as creating a standard knowledge base. I can buy my daughter her name in wood blocks from the $0.98 store as a test of her spelling of her name. I can teach her a play from our heritage with puppets rather than act out something standard. We can visit the Discovery Cube next week to use their microscope instead of buying one we won’t use much yet.
It was pure luck that I looked at preschool and common core backwards, but I like the idea of teaching that way. Using what I think matters to teach what is age appropriate and looking ahead to what’s next whenever my daughter is ahead in certain areas.