You know how sometimes parents compare their children to other people's kids — whether intentionally or just coincidentally as such opportunities arise?
Well, lately I've been remembering how my mom swears I learned how to read at age 2, and then a certain unnamed friend online (cough, Dionna, cough)1 posted a picture of her son writing his name out legibly — and he's a good six months younger than my 3.75-year-old son.
Despite these inducements to be paranoid and pressuring, I have resisted all urges to force Mikko to step up the pace. (No, seriously! Well, ok, I did playfully check while we were making "decorations" to see if he could write his name legibly — um, no.)
So you can imagine my surprise and delight when just the other day, he suddenly spoke up and created a writing lesson out of his own head.
I was sitting at the dining room table (newly uncovered and relocated to our living room and now frequently used) making out lists of projects I'd like to complete before the baby comes. I dragged Sam into this obsessiveness, even though he kept discouraging me by saying things like, "So, are we prioritizing the things on this list?" No! It ALL must be done! ALL! (I'm pregnant. I'm in my third trimester. I give no quarter.)
Mikko was drawn to our scrawling on numerous sheets of white paper (reused backs of printed paper — don't worry), so I handed him a stack and popped him into his booster seat and gave him an extra pen.
He started talking to us about Silly Guy and how he needed to write down our address so he could draw a map.
So I started telling him our address, which is mostly numbers. I started with 7 and asked him if he knew how to draw a 7. He shook his head, so I leaned over and drew a simple one for him, pointing out that both lines were straight and what directions they went in.
He loved this and eagerly copied what I had done.
Then he got this big grin on his face and looked up at us. We exclaimed in our joy over his joy. "You drew a 7! I didn't know you knew how to draw a 7!"
From there, he was insatiable. We ran through our whole address, and then went on to other numbers and letters.
Some elements were easy for him, and others less so (see Zs below, which still confuse me sometimes!), but he never seemed frustrated. I think it was because it was his own choice to be practicing it all, and we weren't pushing him to perform for us. It was all for his own pleasure in learning.
This little, unplanned interlude made me so glad we'd followed his lead when it came to writing. If I'd made it a lesson, I'm sure I could have, in my infinite wisdom, sucked all the joy out of it for him and negated his feeling of accomplishment. Am I saying that everybody's planned learning opportunities are that way? Not at all — just that mine tend to be!
Seriously, the biggest reward from all this for me isn't relief that Oh, whew, he's writing after all; it was seeing his big, pleased smile after every mark he'd made where he felt successful.
The next day, Sam took the idea in a different direction. He started sketching out simple drawings and leaving room for Mikko to copy.
So I don't have much of a point. In some ways, I wanted to post this as an idea for what you could do to amuse or educate your own little one (of whatever age — I put no pressure on what time is appropriate for learning to read and write). In other ways, I'd say to ignore that whole suggestion and just wait for your kid to tell you when it's time — you'll know what to do then!
(And please, please, don't take this post as an indication that your child should be experimenting with writing by now! Comparisons between kids can be interesting, but don't take them to heart.)
When have your kids delighted you with their own delight in learning?