Is my tot ready???

I got this comment and thought I would answer in a post in case anyone else was interested…

I have a question for you Carisa.

I am thinking of starting my Tot on ABC notebooking. I’m concerned that I’d be starting him too soon. I’ve heard that it’s better to slowly work into formal learning with the little ones.
I started my oldest a bit too early I feel and then at about 3 1/2 he wanted nothing to do with ABC or Numbers etc, till the age of 5. At that time I didn’t know about Mason and other styles, so my approach was probably a bit off. I guess I’ve learned tons since my first one was little. I just don’t want to think I’m gradually introducing it then all of a sudden he reacts negatively. I’m probably thinking way too much on this, and not giving myself enough credit of knowing my little guy’s interests and abilities.

Do you know a good indicator that a tot might give to be ready to start, based on your educational background knowledge?

I first want to say, that I think you are right on…YOU know your tot. THAT is the best indicator. Other than motherly instincts, I will give my advice. I recently was contacted about participating in an EBook that is being written and I answered some questions for them, here is a portion of what I had to say in my “interview” for that, which I believe relates to this question.

Learning at a young age should be child led and immersed in PLAY. If K becomes uninterested, we stop! When I begin to force my teaching on him, he begins to resent my teaching all together. Eventually he will pick the skills up, it is not important that he learn them early. I believe in exposing him and letting him learn at HIS pace.

Learning should be fun and exciting, filled with many different experiences. I try to make sure I give him opportunities in all of the many areas of development on a regular basis. I use my leadership as mom and teacher to alternate items I choose for Tot School each day to help with this. Some days we do music, some days art, some days ABCs, some days physical games. I try to bring balance, while also letting him repeat activities often that I know he really likes. For example, we have this GlowBright drawing board thing that he LOVES. I naturally wouldn’t even bring this out much, but because it is something HE loves, it comes out a lot and is used to expose many different skills: shapes, letters, colors, etc.). HIS interest leads that. I just stem the learning from his interest.

Do not overwhelm the child!! I do NOT believe in drilling facts, teaching to acquire and master a skill, or anything of the sort. If K picks up letters (which he has), that’s great, but I will NOT drill him and make him color 50 Aa sheets until he gets it! P couldn’t identify any letters until he was almost 4, that was fine with me…he’s reading well above his grade level (if he were in traditional school) and knows them all now!!! K on the other hand could identify over half before age 2! They are just different kids.

Kids are different. I do the natural comparing as all parents and teachers do, but I don’t do it to push anybody. Sure, we comment on things P could do, or things K can do that P couldn’t but it is NEVER to compare in a negative way. Children learn differently and I believe in relaxing about this.

Don’t know if any of that helps (sorry if it was more info than you wanted) :), but it all leads into my answer, which is to use your Mommy instinct and go at your tot’s pace. I knew K was ready to begin an ABC notebook when he became very interested in the written word. He began pointing out different letters (at first naming them incorrectly) on clothing, in books, on TV, etc. This was a big sign for me to know he was ready to begin a bit more in the area of teaching ABCs. Once he began to show natural interest I jumped in and followed.

My other son, P, did not show any interest until close to age 4. Everything (which wasn’t much) we did ABC related was entirely at my leading! The good news… he too learned all of his letters within just a few weeks-once HE became interested! P’s learning style was different than K’s and I had to teach in a more physical way with him (jumping on the letters, running to tag them, etc.). He also used the Leap Frog – Letter Factory DVD, which I truly believe is what sealed the deal for his letter ID knowledge! This video is amazing and so accurately teaches letter sounds. I only wish I would have had this when I taught public school, it would have helped so many of my struggling students.

I hope that answers your question, thanks so much for visiting our blog and trusting me enough to ask me for advice :).