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 :).

Alphabet Notebook ~ Tot School

Here are some photos of the ABC notebook we are making for Tot School.

We began with the letter Bb, because K had a great interest in B and was already naming it, it was a natural place to start. I made several pages in Microsoft Publisher (you could use any image program) like this for both my 6yr old and my 2 yr old. They are making the notebook as a joint project, but the purpose is for K. K colors on the page and I will say, “K– color the beetle” and he will scribble on the beetle. P gets a word list form me and then writes the words for all of the items on the page.

I also include an intro page, which is pictured on the right for the letter Kk below, of just random K’s that were in Microsoft’s clip art. I am sure you can get them from their clip art website, as well as their graphics. On the left is a page with the letter in different fonts. I don’t use this page with K much yet but P likes it a lot and as K progresses it will be neat to show him different forms of the letters.

Here’s a photo of our recent Kk pages, K’s on the left and P’s on the right.

And here you can see K pointing to his friend Kingsley, who is pictured on his K sheet! We have tons of fun putting people’s photos (and pets) on the sheets and naming them as well as the items.

I believe in teaching the alphabet naturally. I am not really a letter of the week type of person, although I know it works well for some. Our alphabet teaching is built into our playing and everyday life. Our ABC notebook is just a journal of this basically. That’s why we didn’t start with A, K doesn’t much care for A yet!! 🙂 We moved on to K since it starts his name. He really likes W too so we will do that soon.

Another thing we do in way of teaching letters is use the Leap Frog – Letter Factory dvd. These dvds teach sounds the correct way! I have never seen anything better that teaches letters and sounds to children than these dvds. I am not a big plunk your kid in front of the tv mom either, so we use these dvds as just a minor extension of our teaching. Both of the boys love the entire series of these, and it reinforces skills for P every time he watches with K. If you don’t own these and have any kids 5 or under, get them!!!!

Above all, teaching the alphabet should be fun, just like everything else in the tot school stage. If we are working on the notebook and K suddenly thinks it’s not fun any longer…we stop. Same with the dvds, or books, or any teaching methods. If it’s not fun, it won’t work at this stage!

Wooden Name Puzzle

So, we attempted school today, with very little success. I am waiting on a call back from the doc, as my son is back on the couch with his fever again. I am SO ready to be back in routine, I LOVE routine!!! I feel bad for P, who seems also ready to be off of the couch and feeling better.

In light of staying on routine, and since I have no homeschooling news to report on 🙂 I thought I would write about another thing I LOVE, the SIX BLOCK NAME BOARD MAGNETIC PUZZLE & 6 LETTER OR OBJECT BLOCKS by Melissa & Doug! The best part is my toddler (almost 20 months) LOVES this! We got this as a gift from a great friend of mine and I instantly loved it. I hung it on K’s wall to be sure we wouldn’t misplace the pieces. Lately this has been on the floor almost everyday as K points to the wall and signs “please” for me to get it down! He loves this puzzle and we play together with it all of the time. It is such a great toy, to teach his name, letters, colors, and so much more. The pieces are magnetic, the squares fit into the board and the letters hook to the squares. This is a great baby gift, toddler gift, or gift for your own child! I am so thankful someone thought to get one for us!

Learning the Alphabet

My son is sick and we were supposed to be back at school this week but he’s been running a high fever for days now. I miss blogging, and I am missing school 🙂 so I figured I could at least get back to one! I love reading about other products people recommend so I thought I would post about my absolute favorite DVD’s Leapfrog Learning DVDs 5-Pack (Talking Words Factory / Talking Words Factory II / Learn to Read at the Storybook Factory / Letter Factory /Math Circus). The Leapfrog series is amazing and my son (when he was much younger) learned his ABCs, sounds, vowels, vowel sounds and way more…watching these DVD’s. Sure, we did tons of hands on stuff and all of the normal ideas I had in my brain since I had taught hundreds of children their letters while teaching Kindergarten. But NOTHING worked like these DVDs and I believe he has sailed through his K curriculum because of the solid foundation these DVD’s provided him, they really are amazing!

The 1st one in the series is the Letter Factory which teaches the ABC’s and sounds, and they move on and build from there, going all the way to making words and stories. He still watches them a lot and I am excited to be able to use them again with my toddler soon! I can’t say enough about how great these DVDs really are!