Paul will be 4 in March, and has started expressing an interest in reading, or rather, learning to read (he is getting frusterated because he can't read his stories says 'but I can't read' in a very sad voice. I just don't know where to start! He does not like being 'taught' or put on the spot. He knows some letters, but not all of them, or at least not that he has shared, and he will totally shy away if you ask him. I did that once and he didn't say or count to three for over a year! We did sit down today and go through a simple book (you know the ones that just have the name of the animal and a picture), spelling the words and saying them, he seemed to like that, but I don't know if that'll lead to learning to read.
How would you approach it? Just keep spelling out words? I could see him saying the letters to himself, so I think he knows them, but he is just so not a performer, and if you get to 'teachy' on him, he'll shut down all the way and it could be days or even weeks before he'll go near what ever it was you were doing.
Julie, I've had kids who are very sensitive to evaluative intent in questions and don't want to perform. My eldest seemed to lose all interest in learning to read one day when she was three and seeing her interest I tried to get her to show me what she knew. It took 18 months for her to display her interest again; darned if she hadn't taught herself to read fluently in the meantime! Anyway, I think you're doing exactly the right thing. Read to him, show him how you tackle words, what you notice about the letters and letter sounds. Let him be a sponge, and don't worry about wringing him out to see if he's absorbing what you're trickling onto him. What matters is whether he's happy and engaged ... not whether you can see evidence of learning progress. That will come eventually, once he's surer of himself.
Mountain mama to two great kids and two great grown-ups
I also have children who are very insistently autodidactic.
My now five year old figured out how to teach himself to read using a variety of books, but the pivotal one was Very Mixed-Up Animals, which is an excellently illustrated flip-book. He had loads of fun with it, giggling by himself curled up on his bed or on the couch, and laughing as he read his "creations" to us. :)
Well, I've been absent for 8 months, and during that time, it turns out that I have completely transformed. You are all precious. Thank you for being here and sharing your lives. You are truly a gift. Jan. 23, 2012
Thank you both so much! I know he is one to keep what he knows to himself for awhile. One day he just started counting and he got to seven, I was shocked. I so wanted to ask him, just out of pure amazement that he figured it out all by himself, but after when happened with 1, 2, 3, when he was about 2, I decided I'd just listen to him share, didn't want another hiatus on numbers!
I am putting that book on my Amazon list, it looks like something that he would just love! I can see Paul figuring things out himself. The letters he has learned have been all him, he asks, we tell and then randomly he bursts out with absolute glee 'there's a 'w'', or 'look a 'p' like in my name'. We just look at each other and think how awesome it is that he did that with out us 'making' him or forcing him before he was ready. I think I got a little nervous with the reading because I don't want to mess up his desire, I don't want to say/do something that will make him shut down.
You could point out that he probably already knows how to read some words - STOP, maybe, on stop signs, and maybe his name, and there are probably others he can figure out through context. Words are everywhere... a can of soup will say "soup" on it somewhere, a gas station will say "gas", etc. environmental print is often friendlier, because kids can often guess pretty easily. I wouldn't make him spell them or anything - just "Yup, that says 'gas'." He'll eventually noticing patterns on his own, like that words that start with the /s/ sound also start with the letter s.
You could also offer him one word at a time when he seems sad about not reading. Just write it on a 3x5 card for him, maybe, so he can keep it with him, and maybe he can draw a picture out what it means on the other side as a reminder.
Single mom to Rain (1/93) , grad student, and world traveler
Very interesting thread for me as we are in the exact same place (except DS is a little older-was 4 in Oct). He gets VERY frustrated when he doesn't immediately know something, yet won't spend the effort to TRY, LOL. We've been having some luck with the Letter Factory videos, as well as a lot of reading to him. Nice to hear some other ideas to try.
Kelly, wife to DH, mom to Caden Reese (10-2-06), Tessa Brynn (12-26-08 ), and Maddox Quinn (7-16-11). Fur-mama to Finnegan, Ripley, Raisin (my little kitty amputee) and Kimchi. 748/2011, 2028/2012, 2023/2013, 1256/2014, 353/2015
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Created an instant family (7/89 and 5/91) in 1997. Made a baby boy 12/05 adopted a baby girl 8/08. Ask me about tandem adoptive nursing. Now living as gluten, dairy, and cane sugar free vegetarians. Homeschooling and loving it. See me at
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