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.