Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Letter of the Week: Intro

Something that we have never done in this house is a lot of "structured" learning. It has never been that we didn't believe in it; it just wasn't something that worked for us. Sam was in a structured environment (via his daycare) from 6 weeks until the end of his Kindergarten year. When we got him home at night we did a lot of playing and singing and dancing...but nothing like sitting around learning his letters or numbers. He did all that at daycare and had no interest in it once he was home. To be honest, it wasn't something I really spent a lot of time thinking about at the time.

Jake, who left the daycare environment at the age of two, rebuffed every attempt I made at organized learning. He simply had no desire to sit and color or do a craft or count manipulatives. I did the best I could to incorporate those skills into our everyday play, but he didn't enter any kind of real lesson-planned learning environment until he went to pre-school just after he turned 3. I did manage to beat myself up a little over that one. When we decided that I was going to stay home with the kids, I had these pictures in my head of what things were going to be like and I nearly couldn't handle the fact that things just didn't work out the way I thought they would.

Zander is (always has been, and probably will always be!) a completely different ball of wax. This boy is a sucker for a craft project. He loves and adores to learn his letters. He wants you to sit with him and read book after book while he points out all the letters he knows. He asks us ten times a day to count with him as he holds his hand out and raises his fingers one by one. He will tell us the color of anything and everything that he sees. I don't think any of this takes him outside the realm of normal, but it is new to us. We find it amazing.

As a parent, you try to not compare your children but sometimes it just can't be helped. I would have thought Jake to be the more likely candidate for wanting to sit and do crafts and structured learning. He has always been much more quite and still than Zander. Zander is, well, a nut. An adorably sweet nut, but a nut all the same! The boy is intense 24/7. The fact that he wants to sit down and do these things just floors me.

But he does. And so we do. Because he seemed so interested in letters, I decided to incorporate a little "structured pre-school learning" into our daily activities. The thing is, I'm not so great with schedules. So I just decided to do one letter a week for the whole year. Think about it -- 26 letters; 52 weeks. It's perfect! We get to go through the alphabet once just for the purposes of identifying them all and then the second go-round we can start to really focus on their sounds and stuff.

We're in week 8 now and have done the letters: A, B, C, E, F, G, H, and V. (We did "V" during the week leading up to Valentine's Day and we're saving "D" for when the local Dinosaur Park opens back up next month.) He's got them all down except "G"; that one he gets about 80% of the time.

I didn't do a great job of documenting "A" or "B," but I thought I would start detailing some of our activities here on the blog starting with the letter "C". Some of the ideas I have found have been really cute and I would love to share them with others. If you know of another project that would be great for a letter as we're going along, please let us know in the comments! I'll be moving back around to that letter again later in the year and I would love to hear some fresh ideas.

Do you do structured learning in your home? What method (or methods) have worked for you?

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