"Huh." I thought. Although I was just barely learning about unschooliung, (Trev was brand-new four), I wasn't sure that I bought that.
You may have learned all about that Truth, yourself.
'Tis like saying "Kids can't imagine." Or "Kids must be taught to be creative." Or even "Kids will never share or be nice unless you make them."
It just isn't so.
It's true that there is illiteracy in the world, but I think that is something grown from fear and shame, not love and understanding.
Along with those two latter key elements, respect and having access to the world are among the primary factors of unschooling.
We all know, I think, that children learn to read by being read to.
Those who choose to learn and play organically also know that children become interested in the written word as they see their parents (and siblings) reading.
They become interested in reading as they become interested in all things, making sense of things, exploring through play... finding -and making- their own way in the world.
Trevelyn started his active process with making words on the refrigerator.
He began his truest (inspired and eager) reading with one particular dinosaur encyclopedia. With the words 'Late Jurassic', mostly, and 'Early Cretaceous'.
First was curiosity (arranging letters upon the fridge, "what does this say?")... and secondly came simply the desire to know.
'Pet Business Invented" April 7, 2012 ~ Madeleine
There are a thousand variables in between the titles of non-reader and Reader.
The way we, as individuals, learn... what we're most interested in and concentrating upon at any given time... how much we want a particular something, that we feel we don't have.
We'll just skip right over my personal (non) favorite: a Mama's fear.
So we began on the refrigerator with magnets and in the pages of The Enclopedia of Dinosaurs and Other Prehistoric Creatures, and today find ourselves regularly on the varied ones of Wikipedia, fact books... and still on that ever-widening shelf of prehistory encyclopedias.
It's lovely how once you experience particular uncertainty and fears as a parent (and come to a certain understanding), you are then able to lay them peaceably to rest.
So Maddie wasn't -isn't- rushed.
And I could see from the beginning that hers was a different path. She wrote letters and began drawing recognizably much earlier than Trevelyn.
She has written party invitations since she was a tot.
She has copied Scrabble arrangements (I've spelled things as she has requested, placed words upon the trays) for years.
She is brilliant in a hundred different ways. But at four it was clear she was only guessing at identifying letters. At five she knew (consistently) only three or four. At newly six it was the same, and it is only now, as she nears seven, that this Learning to Read thing is visibly apparent.
But I can say absolutely that I have never experienced worry over it.
Have you been to the teacher shoppes? Seen the "school imitates life" tools?
Growing gardens in a workbook. Instruction to draw a line from the Mama horse to the baby horse. Sheet after sheet of 'Which one is large?' 'Which one medium?' 'Which one small?'
Sometimes we get an idea (suggestion) in our heads that these rote rituals are the best (only) path to success.
But if we listen carefully, we're gifted with the assurance that there is a different way, if we like. For each of us. A way that speaks to us, personally.
- books! :) All shapes and sizes. All levels. All genres.
- Scrabble tiles and trays
- letter rubber stamps
- software games (JumpStart, Clifford, Winnie the Pooh, Muppets, Thomas, Reader Rabbit)
- Letter Factory videos
- LeapPad and games
- Leapster and games
- Brand New Readers (readers--love this series)
- Playful Pals (also love this series of readers. both my children have read these with success.)
- Letter cards (various sort of large cards with letters on them for making words)
- Sesame street videos
- letter dice
- foam letters for game making
- letter puzzles
- large wooden letters
- felt board with felt letter cutouts
- Peggy Kaye's Games for Reading
In our house, learning to read is like anything else. Living and exploring with free access to materials and resources.
There are workbooks on a shelf... ready for scribbles, circles, and finding the differences.
There are picture books, chapter books, classical literature, and dictionaries.
There are computer games.
There is curiosity.
And there is me... knowing these tools are used and a part of our lives, but appreciating that it's the whole rest of the world that really inspires my children to read.
I am amazed and so inspired by their constant discovery... loving every day the way being alive works... seeking, growing, expanding.
And reading is a natural and beautiful part of that.
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This post is part of the Unschooling Tools series.
Other posts are Unschooling Tools : Games
Unschooling Tools : Math Play
Unschooling Tools : Television
Unschooling Tools : For Creativity
Next week : Unschooling Tools : Around Town