Fall is almost here and that means my entire internet is filled with people's back to school posts. Calder is cruelly two and a half months shy of qualifying for kindergarten this year which is a shame because I think he'd really like. Whether or not kindergarten would like him is another matter of course.
Not that school years matter around here. We've been keepin' on with our pseudo preschool at home program. We still have not established any kind of official home curriculum or anything. Or schedule. Or defined goals. For a coach and a quality manager, we are both pretty disorganized. We basically suck at applying our work skills to our home life. Essentially, we've been relying on a series of progressively more difficult workbooks and a few free apps and websites to work with Calder. We found out pretty quickly that anything that was geared towards preschoolers was too easy for him. Shapes, colors, letters and numbers are old hat for Calder. Even some of the K level books were a bit too soft on him. I think we've finally found a good challenge with some K to Grade One bridge books that have phonics and simple math concepts and involve a lot of writing practice.
Even though I am totally lazy and quite possibly the worst fake preschool teacher ever, I don't rely entirely on Sylvan Learning and the iPad to do all the work. Bruce and I also practice reading and math one on one with Calder but that's a bit more difficult to get going and a lot less effective. Bruce will do math problems with him using bottle caps or beads or whatever to demonstrate and all goes well until Wren wanders by, swipes the whole deal off the coffee table and toddles off laughing maniacally while Calder completely loses his mind over it. Bruce will also dump out a pile of change and go over dollars and cents or take out this creepy Owl toy that shows time and work on that.
If Bruce is the numbers guy, I am definitely the wordstress. To amp up my teachery cred, I got a ton of flashcards from the Target dollar bins: flags of the world, animals, adding and subtraction, sight words and his favorite, phonics. I was surprised at how well he took to those. Calder is quite happy to get out the letter combinations set and work on them by himself, whispering under his breath, "Sh is for sheep. Cr is for crown, Th is for Free." So his pronunciation still needs a bit of work.
Of course Calder gets a tad more combative when I try to get him to actually apply those sounds on his cards to sounding out real words in books. You see, Calder thinks he can't read so to avoid failing, he refuses to try. Words that he knows on sight like mom or dad or zoo are easy enough but getting him to make the connections between familiar words and unfamiliar ones with the same sounds is a challenge. Rather than actually looking at the words themselves, Calder will just throw out random guesses based on whatever pictures might be on the page, getting increasingly frustrated at every wrong answer and it's not until I lose patience and tell him to LOOK AT THE FIRST LETTER ALREADY (I have no idea how real teachers do this every day) that he will focus enough to recognize that he knows the right sounds to put together. So the whole process will go a little something like this: Getting Calder to Read: A Short Play
Calder: Ghost, Scary, Cat
Me: No. Look at the word and sound it out, don't just guess.
Calder: But I caaaaaaaan't. I'm a faaaailure!
Me: What's the first letter, what sound does it make?
Calder: Gets out of chair and jumps on the dog
Me: LOOK AT THE LETTER!
Calder: Uhh, B? Buh!
Me: Yes! What's next? You know that, it's the same as z...
Calder: Two Os OOOOOOOOO. Buh Oooo. Boo!
Calder: gets in Wren's face Boo! Boo! BOOOOOOO!
Me: FIVE MINUTE TIME OUT!
End reading lesson
Perhaps it's good he's not old enough for kindergarten. I can already tell that we are in for a lifetime of "Talks to much in class" notes so waiting for him to mature a bit more emotionally is probably a good idea. Intellectually, I feel Calder could kick kindergarten's ass. I certainly couldn't read yet at his age so he's got a great start there but it's the putting in effort without tantrums and settling down and paying attention without constant reminders that he needs to work on. I've already started talking to him about what school is like and letting him know that getting out of his chair and meandering around the room is not tolerated. Ideally,with him being five going on six, the first few weeks of kindergarten next year will be a smooth transition, especially if it is mostly leaning the stuff he already knows. I am hoping that the confidence he'll get from going over the easy stuff will put him in the right mindset to try something new without reservations when they do get to it.