Waldorf and the early reader? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 5 Old 03-05-2005, 12:44 AM - Thread Starter
 
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My DD is currently in a Waldorf preschool. Lately she's been really trying to figure out how to read. She figured out basic "blending" one day about a month ago, you know like....duh...awww....guh....dog and ever since then she's trying to sound everything out. We can't go anywhere without her trying to figure out what things say.

I talked to her preschool teacher about it and she said that DD does a great job of living in her body and she has a quite full fantasy life and imagination. That she's not a child who tends to be in their head. She also said that while Steiner talks about development in 7 year increments that he also talks about how at each third of the seven years their is also a shift and the 4 2/3 shift is more towards thinking and that this might just be part of her shift at her age.

I guess I'm just wondering if anyone else who does Waldorf schooling currently has or has had an early reader. Did you do any teaching at home? I'm wondering how to best help DD. She gets frustrated with words that don't follow very basic phonics rules. I'm torn between just letting this be her thing and with actually doing a bit of teaching to help ease some of her frustration with not being to read words with silent "e", vowel groups, etc. However, I have no idea what sort of teaching I would do. Any ideas?

Right now, I'm sort of waiting it out to see if she drops it. She went through a stage about six months ago where she was obessed with the starting letter for each word she saw or heard and then dropped it until about a month ago when she figured out blending. However, even if she drops trying to read now I'm guessing she won't wait until after she turns 7 to start reading more than basic words (dog, cat, hat, etc.). She has a summer birthday so wouldn't start first grade until 2.5 years from now. At any rate, I'd love some btdt or best guess advice on where to go from here.

TIA!!

Mama to three sweet girls (a dramatic, chatty 10yo, a bouncy, dynamo of a 7yo, and a delightful, whimsical 3.5yo)
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#2 of 5 Old 03-05-2005, 11:09 AM
 
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My granddaughter, who is currently 5, has been going through periods of trying out learning how to read. Her modus operandi is a bit different from your daughter, as she has focused on learning how to write the various letters and spell a few words.

My daughter's strategy has been to answer specific questions specifically but not to volunteer help and not to "teach." This seems to work okay, as gd is satisfied with receiving answers and she doesn't actually expect lessons yet. She also goes through periods of intense desire to master new skills (she learned how to write all the letters of the alphabet) and periods of being very busy with other activities. I doubt if she will wait until 7 to learn how to read, but at least she isn't being pushed.

It is tricky.

On a parallel track, my daughter has been raising her son since birth using the Emmi Pikler (sp?) approach. Pikler was a Hungarian pediatrician who worked out a method for raising healthy children in an orphanage setting. The method involves allowing children to figure out as much as possible by themselves, from birth. At the same time, any time a grown-up intervenes or acts on the baby, they speak directly to the infant and explain what they are doing: "I'm going to take you to the changing table and change your diaper." My grandson is used to figuring out how to use his body for anything he wants to do and is an absolute expert at climbing stairs, opening and closing doors, getting up onto chairs or benches or rocking horses. He is also physically strong and very self-confident. I guess my thought is that a certain amount of effort expended in figuring out things for yourself can be strengthening.

Eventually your daughter will work out that there is something in the way of her sounding out words and she will ask you why it isn't working and then you can explain the specific case she is stuck on. But until she realizes something is wrong and asks for help, I would leave her to it.

One other funny bit. My gd decided that she wanted to be able to read and she wanted to be able to read right now! So she started to memorize books, and now she can "read." For fun, she will occasionally look through one book while reciting another. I think she is fairly bright, but then I'm a doting grandma.

Nana
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#3 of 5 Old 03-05-2005, 11:51 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thank you for your feedback. Actually, my daughter is also very interested in writing. Right now when she's given paper and crayons she's as likely to start asking me how do you spell "basket" or "table" or whatever and writing the letters as she is to draw a picture. I've also been making sure we spend a lot of time painting in addition to coloring/writing with crayons so she gets to keep working on more creative pictures instead of just writing. I guess we'll keep on just as we have been. I do think I'm going to read a parent's guide to reading so I can hopefully help answer her questions better.

Would you mind a few more questions? Will your GD be in first grade next year or is next year her kindergarten year? Will she attend a Waldorf school? Are they able to deal with children who read before first grade? Is your daughter telling any of the stories that go along with learning letters in the Waldorf school or is GD just learning the abstract letter symbols with the stories to come when she's older? I'm guessing at DDs kidnergarten it most likely won't be an issue as they don't have any books, but I wonder how it translates into first grade when they are actually working on learning letters and such. Thanks again for your feedback.

Quote:
One other funny bit. My gd decided that she wanted to be able to read and she wanted to be able to read right now! So she started to memorize books, and now she can "read." For fun, she will occasionally look through one book while reciting another. I think she is fairly bright, but then I'm a doting grandma.
Aww, I love that, looking at one book reciting another!! My younger DD loves to memorize books. I haven't yet caught her reciting one while actually looking at another though. We used to joke that she would probably learn to read right along with my older DD, but so far at least that's not happening.

Mama to three sweet girls (a dramatic, chatty 10yo, a bouncy, dynamo of a 7yo, and a delightful, whimsical 3.5yo)
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#4 of 5 Old 03-05-2005, 05:54 PM
 
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Originally Posted by momtokay
Would you mind a few more questions? Will your GD be in first grade next year or is next year her kindergarten year? Will she attend a Waldorf school? Are they able to deal with children who read before first grade? Is your daughter telling any of the stories that go along with learning letters in the Waldorf school or is GD just learning the abstract letter symbols with the stories to come when she's older? I'm guessing at DDs kidnergarten it most likely won't be an issue as they don't have any books, but I wonder how it translates into first grade when they are actually working on learning letters and such. Thanks again for your feedback.
Next year is kindergarten. She will be at the waldorf school (her mother went most of the way through waldorf). I don't know that the school worries a lot about early reading. When my daughter has expressed concern it has been from her point of view. She learned how to read in school, at waldorf, and wasn't an early reader. I think she felt that waiting was beneficial, so she'd like her daughter to wait. Stella is a very bright child, always asking questions. She has a huge vocabulary for a 5 year old. It isn't a big concern overall.

Right now she is just learning the letter symbols. I think she links them with particular words, mostly names. For example, if she sees an "S" she might say: "like in my name" and then spell out her name. Although her classroom doesn't have books, the school does have a lending library of children's books, Stella goes to the town library all the time and she has a huge collection of books she owns. It is just that school involves doing other stuff.

Stella is very excited that someday she will be in first grade and learning how to read and do arithmetic.

If you really like the idea of going with waldorf, I would build on the picture of school being a place where special stuff happens. Then, even though she may know how to read, she'll still feel like learning the stories and drawing the pictures and working with the letter sounds is fun and special. And it probably will include a lot of material and experiences that are new, are fun and are special.

Good luck figuring it all out.
Nana

Got to go collect my granddaughter!
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#5 of 5 Old 03-18-2005, 01:37 PM
 
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Just a little more feedback for you, although our situation is a bit different. DD started reading at 3, quite on her own. She started by asking us to run our fingers under the words we were reading, and then she began to run her fingers, and then, in a very short time, she was tracking accurately as we read aloud. The reason I say it's a bit different from your situation is that she clearly uses a whole language approach rather than phonics; I have never witnessed her sounding out words. Now, at 5, she can read anything and everything . . . and it's all still a mystery as to how it happened.

She is in her second year of a mixed-age Waldorf kindergarten, and will have another year in the same classroom before beginning 1st grade. She is the only reader in the class, although there is another boy in one of the other kindergarten classes who has been reading since age 2 and now reads at an adolescent level (e.g., Harry Potter books). The teachers all say that DD and this boy will be just fine entering 1st grade. They say just what Deborah said: that the early readers will simply experience the letters in a different way from the other children. They may focus on the beautiful pictures, the sounds, or (my guess for DD) the stories behind the letters.

There are a few purists in our school who would have limited (or even eliminated) access to books in our situation, but we thought it was best to let things flow. DD is not beyond her years in any other arena, hasn't lost any teeth, and is still emotionally very much a kindergartener . . . so we're happy to keep her in K another year and not concern ourselves about the early reading.

Hope that helps!
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