K is going through that exciting stage (with much help from Katy) – learning to read and write! He had reading the numbers 1-9 at nursery school, but he’s doing the proper stuff now. He holds the pencil in a slightly odd way – like people do who are left-handed, even though he writes with his right hand. We’re not sure if he’s ambi-dextrous or just a bit confused!
Katy uses a Montessori trick (I think) of pouring about a 1cm thick layer of salt into a flat dish and writing in that with your finger. You get the muscle memory, nice tactile response, you see what you’ve done (unlike just moving your finger about on the table) and then you can shake the dish to rub it out and start again. I took some lovely photos (not my camera work or equipment, just the subject) of Katy and J showing him how to do a 4 and then him trying. He’s also doing the repetitive copying in a book stuff with a pencil, which he has so far enjoyed.
On the reading front he’s got an excellent phonics desk thing. I’m normally far from the world’s greatest fan of kids’ computers as they’re too often tacky, have poor recordings of over-excited American voices and just generally poor. This one is great – Katy got it cheap/free on eBay or Freecycle and it’s missing the letter V, but it still works OK. Maybe he’ll go through life with a blind-spot for words like “vat” and “vet” but able to read “palaeodendrology”!
There’s a flat area that you cover up with a card from the set that comes with the desk. The card fits into a bit of the desk so it knows which one it is by something at the card’s edge and so it says the word on the card. The card has a picture of the word e.g. Bus, and holes for the letters to go in. You then pick up the letters from their normal home on the desk and put them into the holes. As you put each one in it says its name and sound, and then when they’re all in the holes it says the whole word. He loves it and it seems to help him a lot!
It’s great to watch him enter this new world of words, and it will help so much with home educating more than one child at once as he’ll be able to at least read the instructions in books or on the computer even if he can’t do the task itself. When we went round the Fitzwilliam Museum* at the weekend (we were passing and decided to pop in for a bit as it’s free 🙂 ) J could have a go at the labels on the exhibits (although things like Mesopotamia were a bit beyond him!) and it will be nice when K is at that stage as he’ll get more out of things.
I know that one of the reasons why Katy was unsure about home educating J in Reception was the responsibility of teaching reading and writing (so we stuck out school for a bit longer), but so far K seems to be doing fine so I think she must be doing her usual good job of things.
* We might not have the sea or nice (any?) hills, but we do have a decent selection of museums etc. nearby. Must count the blessings occasionally.