Saturday, October 11, 2008

turning the page

I have had to completely change how I work with Jove on learning since Miranda has stopped napping as much and as regularly. Now, almost everything takes place with both of them being involved or with Miranda being adequately distracted or being allowed to chew on the materials. I have also decided that in addition to pursuing the topics that Jove is interested in (this week: Johnny Appleseed) I try to get him to count, write or draw and work on letter/word recognition a little everyday. Some days are so much more productive than others and many days we are out of the house having adventures. Every moment seems like a teachable moment and it is hard for me to separate life from academics (guess that would make me an emerging unschooler)

In my best moments I am able to relax and enjoy Jove and his learning and know that he is great, he's only four and he is learning everyday. In my worst moments I worry because Jove doesn't like to write letters ( he says its tricky). I start to feel the judgments and fear that surround academic performance for so many kids. I think it is very easy to feel like I am never doing enough and I have to keep reminding myself that we are happy and he is totally engaged in the work we do.

By far the most exciting thing that has happened in the last month in our learning is that we have started to read chapter books. I read them out loud to him at various points throughout the day and he requests multiple chapters per day. We have read Charlotte's Web, James and the Giant Peach and The Mouse and the Motorcycle. I would have never thought to read chapter books to a four-year old, but a couple of moms mentioned it to me and it seemed like a good idea. I am amazed at how much remembers from day to day and how he understands character development.
I read a book called The Read Aloud Handbook by Jim Trelease and he has a website that gives a ton of information about the art of reading aloud, its importance and an extensive annotated list of books. This book is a treasure, not because it is a page-turner but because it illuminates so much of why and what people read. I have always felt a little kooky when I would read essays aloud to my high school students and now I feel vindicated; even teenagers want to be read aloud to.

So I will leave you with this anecdote: When my parents were staying with us at the beginning of September, we were reading Charlotte's Web as part of our nightly story time. Jove filled his grandparents in on the story line and they listened in on a few chapters. They were dismayed to realize that they were going to miss the ending to the book, so my mom read the rest of the book aloud to my dad while I put the kids to bed. It just goes to show, a good story is a good story and you can read stories aloud to people that already read independently.

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