Big Kid will be 3 in just a few weeks and we’ve unwittingly been raising him in a way that coincides happily with the Montessori method. A homeschooling friend of mine made a few comments under the assumption that I was specifically following the method, and when I became very confused we got things cleared up and she sent me off to read a few books. I was never so happy as to see that I wasn’t just being weird! I knew I was doing things differently than my friends, but I didn’t know it had a name and that I wasn’t alone.
We have worked with Big Kid in the last year on many things that some people think are quite silly to teach a 2-year-old to do. He can completely dress himself down to shoes except for laces, he can handle buttons, snaps and zippers, he pours his own milk, sets the table, gets his own plates and cups out of his cupboard. He cuts with scissors, cleans up after his own spills and helps me cook much of the time.
We haven’t made a big deal about teaching these things. There have been no lesson plans or specific goals I set out to accomplish (except for getting his own clothes and shoes on!). I just felt like it was all part of life, and why not learn it now since he wants to be helpful and work alongside me at this age? His younger brother is just recently at the age where they can play together well, so before that I kept Big Kid with me to do laundry and cleaning and baking.
Now I’m a little lost. I’m not sure where to go from here! I’m reading more about working on preschool skills in a Montessori fashion, but Big Kid is trying to take me in a different direction. He’s a very logical orderly kid- everything he touches gets lined up in a specific order that only he knows. He’s always trying to figure out how things work, and he and Superman spend many evenings taking things apart and putting them back together. He wants to know everything about everything.
We read quite a bit every day and I run my finger underneath the words as I read (mostly to reinforce the left-to-right thing). He asked me several weeks ago why I was doing that and I told him that some day he would learn to read like Mama and Daddy and this would help him to read. He was very quiet and then said, “I think those letters all mixed up tell you the words.” I told him he was right and gave a pretty simple explanation about each letter making sounds that work together to tell us what word to read. Now he’s determined to read RIGHT THIS SECOND. He asks me the sounds of every letter he runs into and he remembers after I tell him once or twice- even the long vowel/short vowel stuff! Now he knows almost all of the sounds and he tries to sound things out if he thinks I’m not looking. It’s so funny- he won’t do it in front of me, I think because I told him it was a “someday” activity.
Here’s my dilemma: Isn’t he too young for this? Shouldn’t he play for awhile longer? He is just barely turning 3 and my big worry is about pushing him. I don’t want to start doing phonics or anything like that seriously at this age because I really feel like he should be building blocks and fishing and running and all the playing he can come up with for a few more years. But he’s got it in his mind that he wants this and he’s going for it.
And on the other hand I absolutely don’t want to discourage him from this! It is so very important to me and Superman that he read well and that he enjoys reading! I do want to follow his interests, which is why we’ve been doing unit study type things over the summer. I’ll be honest and say that he often baffles me. I’ve taught many many different personalities and many different kinds of learners, and he is my opposite in many ways. He is very analytical and ordered and I’m creative and more spontaneous. I have had to learn to plan more things so that life runs more smoothly and while I value that it has never been natural! This child has been orderly since he was in the womb!
So any suggestions on what to do next? Books for me to read to prepare myself to teach him to read? phonics programs you love? Books on what to do with such a logical kid?