This last week I have been consumed by the issue of learning to read/write…it started innocently enough, Sophia has been really interested in learning letters for the last month or so and we had a few activity books where you can trace the letter then have a go yourself so she was just merrily doing that when the urge took her. Then a friend posted a code for a month’s free Reading Eggs so I thought I’d give it a go and oh my, does she love it! For the past week she’s spent 1-2 hours each morning clicking away to howls of protest when I suggest actually (shock horror) going out!
I started a thread on a Christian home education Facebook page and unintentionally opened myself to a phonics vs. ‘whole word’ medley of confusion. I started doing some research which hindered rather than helped. There was talk of flash cards, whether it’s damaging to start phonics first, whether reading can be learnt entirely one way or another and at what age it should be attempted. I won’t spew out what I’ve read as I’m sure many places will do it much more succinctly than I could. But I’ve concluded that:
a) She is not even 3 yet. There is no rush. My gut instinct was to be child led and not push things, I didn’t even consider that I’d be thinking about reading at this age so I’m annoyed at myself for letting my head get the better of me and start doubting what I already really knew. We will continue doing things at her pace and remain largely unstructured through these early years – learning through play and life (as we know it).
b) She (like me) has a tendency to panic if you put her on the spot. Letters and numbers that she merrily recites on her own time seem to drop out of her head the moment you ask her to identify one. I don’t think that flash cards or any attempt at structure/teaching would help her at this point in time. Which really just solidifiies point a) but I liked having 3 points.
c) I suspect that neither approach is the be all and end all. Every child being different and all surely means that one approach will work for one, another for another and a mixture of both for yet another. And increasingly I am reading of families where a child simply picked up a book and worked it out for themselves. The emphasis seems to be on the child wanting to learn.
But mainly, this has been a a test for me in trusting my instincts and not panicking. Having taken responsibility for their education I need to remain calm, make the best decisions I can and accept that sometimes I will make mistakes. I also need to remember to let God guide me, that he has plans for us and will look out for us!
‘For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.’
Jeremiah 29 : 11