Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Get Set for School

I've been frustrated for some time because I can't teach Emma preschool basics like the alphabet and numbers. I'm convinced there is nothing wrong with Emma's intelligence (maybe mine), but anything needing memorization just falls out of her pretty little head. I tried to no avail to teach her and even her daddy tried to help her in the evenings. No amount of reciting could get her past G in the alphabet or 5 in numbers. She was frustrated and we were frustrated. She avoided our teaching sessions like the plague. Even though I know I shouldn't compare, it was hard to see other children her age and younger who were saying the alphabet forward and backward, in Spanish, while standing on one foot. I kept praying, "Give me wisdom, God. I don't know what to do!" (James 1:5).

A while back a lady at church, Patty, asked me to watch her 2 year old daughter a few mornings while she did some tutoring for the school district. Patty takes special needs kids who are not progressing in the classroom and tutors them for a short time one-on-one to determine what is keeping the child from learning. Patty was an amazing resource for me as she told me that I need to determine Emma's learning style. She recommended a curriculum called "Handwriting Without Tears." I immediately checked it out online and ordered the preschool book and the kindergarten book. They were only $6.95 each and I've been blown away by the thought and ingenuity of this technique.

"Get Set For School" is designed to use associations to teach the basics like letters, colors, numbers, and shapes. Instead of auditory learning that makes Emma and myself crazy, this uses spacial practice and lots of pictures. The first book is for 4-5 year olds and seems to be the perfect stage for Emma. She can do all the assignments easily without frustration. I could have started this book at least a year ago with Emma and it would have really helped, although we would have moved through the lessons slower. It's kind of fun to cruise through something for a change!

The book starts with colors and shapes using coloring as the learning tool. Also available through HWT are several different systems using dough, wooden shapes, and Mat Man (a large scale shape thing). All of the different teaching aids are reasonably priced, but designed for children with different learning styles (the entire pre-school kit is around $100 and includes tons of stuff). I haven't quite figured out how Emma learns best, so I decided to wait and see how I liked the basic book and go from there.

Emma loves to trace the shapes. It is perfect for her because she enjoys coloring and drawing. She took to curriculum like a fish to water. Instead of wrestling and fighting about one little letter and then giving up, I have to cut off the school time so she retains all the information she is gobbling up like her favorite food.

For letters, the book shows how to properly draw each letter while associating the letter with a subject that starts with that letter: D for duck. These ducks are swimming in a pond and the child is to trace the line to make the shape.

Instead of going through the alphabet chronologically, this book teaches the letters by how they are shaped. It makes so much more sense to Emma and to me. This is her first letter assignment -- L. She did it the first time without my instruction because it is so logical to her.

Even the way this book teaches numbers is fantastic. Look how many associations are made with the number 4!

The way Emma is pealing through "Get Set for School," I am thankful I also ordered the Kindergarten book, "Letters and Numbers For Me." It is an introduction to reading and combining letter sounds.

As you can tell, I am more than a little excited about this curriculum. Helping my child learn is exhilarating. I'm quite ready for any info-mercial that Handwriting Without Tears may want me to star in. Hope my passion about this helped you either to remember to pray when you lack wisdom, to figure out how your child learns and avoid some frustrations, or even given you an idea to help you educate for the basics at home. And if you weren't helped by any of those things, you may be interested to know that I used my new lens to take these pictures and it was SO much fun.


Shawna said...

I just LOVE how the books seem to glow in the photos like the knowledge is just ready to shine right out into Emmas mind! I am sure that was intentional with the new lens and all!

What a neat curriculum and thanks for sharing. I love the story along with the pictures, I think I must be a visual learner too!

Annie said...

I also love Handwriting Without Tears, but alas, until my school lets me change my curriculum, I am stuck. Glad you are finding it so helpful.

Anonymous said...

You might be interested that the teachers of the Head Start preschool that I work for went to a workshop to learn about Handwriting Without Tears last year. They also loved the concept and use it now in the classroom. The 3 & 4 yr olds seem to catch onto it really quick. I think you're on to something!
Aunt Dianne

Kellie said...

Thanks for the recommendation, I'll definitely check it out. Grace doesn't know her letters or numbers either and has very little interest in learning them. She learned her colors and shapes very early and quickly but could care less about letters/numbers which is frustrating for me.

Grandma Sherri said...

I'm so thankful you found something Emma loves, with learning thats 90% of the battle I think. Its hard not to compare but that only leads to frustration.

Linds and Manda said...

Very cool! I'm so glad that you and Emma aren't frustrated anymore. The curriculum looks very interesting. Next time I have a minute I'm going to look into it. I've been trying to figure out exactly how to teach Liam how to write his letters. He's tried to copy me the old fashioned way but get's easily frustrated. I know we have some time yet but this might be a really fun way for us to do it together and for him to learn. Not only letters but a more structure lesson like he will come up against in school.

Marcee said...

We use that curriulum for Benjamin and Sammy. They like it cause its easy!!! Definately no tears here.

Kari said...

ebay has a bunch of this too...once you figure out if you want some of the accessories.

Anonymous said...

Yeah! Attitude is the greatest hurdle in starting homeschooling. You are welcome to look at my Abeka and hooked on math & phonics to see if it matches her learning style for next year. Jenni Birch

Cathy said...

Oooh, I think I'll check into this for Rile'! Hurray for you and Emma!