My experience has been that this interest comes and goes until the time that the child is ready to read themselves. I would say follow your daughter's lead. If she enjoys the sense of accomplishment in identifying letters then go ahead and encourage that in a casual way in daily life. Maybe focus your efforts on helping her identify the letters in her own name. At three, identifying letters and associating them with sounds may be all she wants to do. So, if her name is Katherine, finding K's might be fun as well as getting to know the "kuh" sound. She may very well leave it at that for a long time. I also think that children go through a period of learning and forgetting letters and being confused by upper case and lower case letters. So even if she looks like she is making steady progress in some direction at a very early age, she may "regress." So, starting early doesn't necessarily mean she will have the interest or stamina to keep it up such that she is reading on her own by 4 or 5. Of course, some children do so you do need to watch for that. I subscribe to the notion of encouraging what is there from the child but never pushing.
I know some children start sight reading large chunks of their storybooks at an early age but I never had that experience. If you don't want her to focus on the words when you read to her, don't use books with easy words. Either tell her stories (I could never do this!) or read her beautifully illustrated books with smaller print and more complicated vocabulary and storylines. (Do you know Elsa Beskow for ex?) Then, she might be more likely to sit back and enjoy the story without preoccupying herself with the words on the page. That can come later.
Hope this helps! Jax
Jacquelin has great advice. Things like that wax and wane. Follow her interest, answering questions as they come. My daughter seems quite content just identifying a few letter at this point.
Mothering an Autumn (08) , a Spring (11) , and another Autumn! (Nov. 2013)
Taking what works and leaving the rest
My daughter will be three in a few days. We are planning on Waldorf homeschooling her when she gets older. I am getting very worried about reading though. She is so interested in letters and is constantly asking me about them. She knows most of her letters just through her curiosity and every day life. She tells me lately that she wants to read. I don't want her to lose her interest by me having her wait until first grade. At the same time, I don't believe she needs to read now. How do you handle your children's curiosity until it is time to learn? I wasn't prepared for this.
I agree with Jacquelin as well! Coming from a "mainstream" early childhood background, I really just threw aside things I do professionally when it came to my daughter. She was much like yours starting around 2.5 or 3.
We answered her questions about words and signs etc with basic answers but didn't go deeper. We also read books as if we were storytelling by not showing her the pictures or words until she was older and/or had heard that same story several times. Mind you, we didn't initially do this... Waldorf was new to us around age 3. Using rich language, singing, saying verses... this will support her without pushing ahead in academic reading. Also, seeing everyone else at home reading for pleasure will keep the spirit alive.
Wendy - aspiring Waldorf handwork teacher, computer geek's wife ,
mom to former 2lb preemie (now 10) & 3x
I would say be encouraging, answer all her questions and teach reading in small age appropriate doses and only when she asks for it. Good for you for taking on Waldorf home schooling! It certainly is a wonderful education!
"It seems to me the thing to do is answer questions and if she learns, fine, and if she doesn't, also fine."
No need to apologize for (possibly) being argumentative. You seem to share the same view as everyone else who has posted. Welcome!
My worry isn't really over her learning to read at a young age. My worry is that she will be bored with a Waldorf curriculum if she already knows how to read when Waldorf curriculums are just introducing letters. I naively thought that by letting her have a lot of play and imagination during her early years and not pushing early academics, that she would not be interested in reading until she was around Kindergarten or first grade. So I just was wondering how to handle things so she is not discouraged from learning and reading yet is still challenged when it is time for her to start school.
There are good reasons for a child to wait on reading, but I do still think it's worse to discourage an interest in learning. That doesn't mean you need to take her interest in reading as a cue that she's ready to learn to be an independent reader. Like others have said, kids tend to develop in fits and spurts, and an interest now may be followed by a year of disinterest, followed by another growth spurt of wanting to reach the next level. Maybe now she'll learn letters and a few sounds, and next time around to write her name and "MAMA" and next time a few sight words like "STOP" and "OPEN" that she can find on signs, and then later learn to sound out most consonants, etc. Feed her interest but don't overfeed her!
Waiting on reading until the time is truly ripe will allow her to have the experiences of listening and memorizing that those of us who can read miss out on since we fall back on reading when the going gets rough! It will also shelter her from some adult influences that she is too young to digest—seeing the world through my children's eyes I now see how much they can avoid being reached by advertising and news stories when they are too young to process them. My son started to read at 6.5 and started reading chapter books right away, and my daughter is turning 6 and not quite reading yet but can recite stories from memory for 20 minutes and read a dozen or so words at sight. I'm not worried that either one is behind or has been stifled... it's been a great childhood for them!
James 12/04 & Cecelia 4/07
I homschooled my son, and saw this thread about reading in new posts. I read it before realizing what forum this is. I don't mean to be argumentative, but having read it, I have questions. Primarily, why would anyone discourage a child who wants to learn something? It seems to me the thing to do is answer questions and if she learns, fine, and if she doesn't, also fine. Am I missing something related specifically related to using Waldorf style/method.
Pek64 I am the moderator, not a Waldorf parent, but in Waldorf, reading instruction is usually delayed quite a bit as compared to traditional education due to the deeper philosophical underpinnings of Waldorf education. I'm sure I'm not doing this explanation justice! Curiosity is not discouraged, just formal instruction. The Waldorf parents will correct me but I believe reading is not taught until well into grades one or two or when the permanent teeth begin to come in. (?)
Re: Lauren's comment above. In a Waldorf school, formal didactic instruction begins in first grade. Before that, children are provided with an educationally enriching environment that consists of free play, crafts, singing, storytelling, art, and practical tasks like setting the table, washing cups, and cutting vegetables for snacks. This is because Waldorf education is a developmental approach. Four year olds and seven year olds have different needs and the adults seeking to educate them must meet them with these differences in mind. Waldorf teachers believe that a child undergoes a developmental shift after the 6th birthday or, said differently, in the 7th year of life. (Piaget's "concrete operational stage" begins at 7; Maria Montessori's "concrete absorbent mind" advances at age 6; Erikson's "industry vs. inferiority" stage begins at 5). By this point, walking, talking and various biological and sensory-motor milestones have been achieved and the child around the age of 7 is seen as ready to begin learning about the world in a new way. Waldorf teachers don't want to push down the activities more suited to the 6-7 developmental shift and beyond. They want young children to get their fill of free play and touching, tasting and smelling their environments (as little children instinctively do) before asking them to interact with the world in a different way. Waldorf teachers are inclined to believe that damage is done if this earlier stage is hurried and not respected and nurtured. Speaking as a parent, I have come to agree with this perspective and wish our culture would return to a more developmental approach (whether it be Waldorf or something else.)
I have a personal story on what others have pointed out. Kids learning happens in spurts.
My son could write simple words and count at age 3, he was a bored only child and had started a public preschool. But by kindergarten the demands were so high, that he really started to hate reading. I was shocked how early conventional education was succeeding in killing his love of learning. For first grade we switched to waldrof school, and while he is far beyond other kids in reading, he is SO NOT bored in school. He loves every minute of it and comes home exhausted from all the new things he is learning all the time. All the story telling has advanced his vocabulary tremendously, in a different way that regular reading.
So I guess I'm just saying, being interested in letters at 3 might not at all mean she is a fluent reader by first grade, and waldorf first grade is just so much more, that she will not be bored.
I`d like to share with you a great educational ipad application that might be helpful in your strivings to teach your kid to read or to encourage them to learn some new words in a playful way. It`s very easy and doesn`t even require your involvement. Here you will find the description: https://itunes.apple.com/app/id619052667?mt=8
Sure, there are different opinions on early reading but there are definitely more benefits of enriching your child`s vocabulary and developing such skills as aural perception, visualization, attention and perseverance. What is more, as professionals say, colorful illustrations help children to comprehend outward things better.
So why not give it a try?
By the way, the app is free;)
My kids were reading by 4 on their own. We read a lot. I answered questions about every sign or label we saw in every store...and boom, at 4 they are reading.
I know Waldorf schools have different views on reading, but if the child wants too and has the ability, they will read long before second grade.