However much to my dismay,Aaminh is still not very keen to read and kept asking me to read out the book to her.she read a few words from a few pages,but not much interested in reading the whole book. I am not going to force her as I don’t want her to ‘hate’ reading and i don’t want her to use her sight memory as well.
When we push young children to read and they only have access to their right hemisphere for reading, we create learning problems for them in the future.
Read about the dangers of forcing children to read .. before their brain is fully developed..here
I Have been trying to do various reading activities with aminah but she does not seem to be too interested in reading and at times deliberately reads wrong . I KNOW she can read and has read many words but at times she just goes crazy and reads even the letters wrong. We tried to do movable alphabets an copying words but after two words she was tuned out. Maybe i should go very slow or just leave her alone for the time being.
However her Arabic progress is going good Alhamdulilah and while playing with smartmax she made various Arabic letters..
Yesterday was a miracle day alhamdulilah. Aminah was playing her reading game on the tablet in which she always guessed the 3 letter word which she had to match with a picture, but yesterday i realized that she was not guessing but was selecting using the ending sound. She would get it right if there was no similar ending sound but would get it wrong if there were words with the same ending sound.eg for cat picture if there was cat and bat. I took over to explain the beginning sound and lo and behold she got how to blend two letters Alhamdulilah.
After playing the game for a while, we did some reading , I wrote two letter words on paper
and we did some reading . MashaAllah she got it! It was a breakthrough day for me. She still loses her focus and starts doing her own writing as you can see her doodles and her jeem as we are also doing Arabic, but its okay and I don’t push her if she does not want to do something. So we probably did this for may be just a minute or two and then she we went off doing her own coloring etc.
Today we did some more reading on the blackboard and she was able to read two letter words such as on off go an at etc etc. However at times she is still confused if she should read from left to right or right to left.
Later during the day we read level Pk of the Emaan reading series and she read the simple words in the book such as see fun
and then we moved on to three letter word picture match puzzle by jolly phonics! MashaAllah she got most of them correct except for mug and pin.
It is such a wonderful day for me and I am extremely happy. It may mean nothing to parents whose children can read, but for me its a huge milestone in homeschooling. Even though she has been recognizing alphabets since she was 2.5 but she just was not able to get the concept of blending. So I totally quit trying to teach her to read, specifically because I did not want her to use her short term memory for reading and because of the many other reasons which I wrote in this blog post. ‘Homeschooling the not so still’. The only thing we were doing was read aloud. We read almost every day,various kinds of books, simple ones to downright high level ones – which i knew she was not understanding much, but she still insisted me to read those to her. Currently I began teaching her Arabic letters and their sounds and doing some Arabic vocabulary. Also formally began the Qaida and memorizing the Quran. This is what we were focusing on these days and lo and behold she began to read
Anyways, she turned 4 in Januray and still no sign of understanding blending or her trying to read and I began to have doubts and fears of my ability to homeschool successfully. I though she was going to stay illiterate and would eventually have to be put into a school. And behold in two days time she has began to read 3 letter words – which is exactly what her peers in school are doing. I asked a friend whose daughter attends school and is Aaminah’s age and she is also doing three letter words. So even though I DID NOT do anything to teach her how to read – any activity or exercise or worksheets but MashaAllah she is reading and is not behind – which I had thought might be the case since I am homeschooling and not doing much!
Young kids 2 -6 year olds are very restless, have very low attention spans and get very very easily distracted. I am talking about majority of the kids this age, there are,however always a few exceptions. So HOW to homeschool such kids.
This was one the major issue which I faced and was the only factor stopping me from taking the homeschooling plunge.
At home, my daughter hardly stays still, is very easily distracted, talks ALOT,would speak to complete strangers who came into the house.. electrician.. plumber, would confidently speak and ask questions from complete strangers in shops, clinics and every where she went…she would throws things, tears up books at times, she couldn’t stand any poster/ paper etc put up on walls, fridge magnets never stayed on the fridge, toys and books never on the shelf..in one word.. everything would be on the floor.( Alhamdulilah some of it has changed now)
But when she went to school for four months… Viola!she turned into a totally miss goody two shoes, listening,obeying and following instructions, she was reserved, calm and quiet and hardly spoke..she was considered under confident.
So why this completely opposite personality in school and at home? I was perplexed. John Holts book How Children Fail and How Children learn made me realize the fear factor of schools, which I realized, must be greatly amplified for kids soo young. As Saffiyah…a 12 year old homeschooler who recently began her homeschool points out
“I found myself more afraid of teachers than my mother, because my mother’s just so familiar while they’re almost like strangers telling you what to do.”
So when a 12 year old could be more afraid of her teacher ..how much fear would be in the hearts of a young little 2.5 year old! Just imagine..sending them to school would be cruel!
When I was unable to make my daughter sit still, grab her attention and make her do her school workbook , coloring inside the shape, remembering numbers etc I was upset and asked other mothers and did a lot of research on the net and this is what I have realized.
Young kids don’t need a rigid routine nor a fixed set curriculum, they need not be taught how to add, read or write and this article hits the nail on the head! More over, our deen ..which provides us instruction in every area of life,guides us regarding teaching the Salah to children, that it should be started at the age of 7 . There is also a saying attributed to Ali (r) [I couldn’t find a reference] that :
Play with your child the first 7 years, Discipline Your Child the next 7 years and then Befriend your child the following 7 years.
So according to our deen, the first seven years are for play and fun without a rigid routine/curriculum or forced teaching of complex things. However, most schools these days take in children at the age of 2.5 and subject them to forced routine of waking up early,travelling to school, being punctual, even when they are unwell (flu, fever, cold) which is likeley to be most of the time! then by the age of four they are expected to read, do math or other complex stuff.
Interestingly in this article titled ‘Much to Early’, the author argues that very young children need not be tutored to understand complex things, because children are only able to do ‘concrete operations’ such as multiplication, addition subtraction at the age of six or seven and reading is a much more complex process than arithmetic, so forcing them to recall alphabets which are merely abstract symbols is like placing a tough burden on them. Surprisingly in these articles a behavioural and developmental Pediatrician explains that the brain only gets ready for reading between the age of 4-7 years! she explains the physiological reasons why we should not be teaching pre-school children to write, read, and spell at such an early age as it will create learning problems in the future.
All of the above articles really are a MUST read as it gives us the underlying reason for not ‘schooling’ children at such a young age.
So parents of such young children should ‘chill’ and relax and not worry if their child is not reading or counting or adding or even if they dont know their alphabets. Just have fun with them, play games and do things they like doing. If they don’t color inside the shape…give them blank sheets to color where ever they wish, they want to color the sky red.. let them..they dont want to read…leave them alone..they dont want to count..leave them alone, let them be kids. Every child develops at a different pace, they each learn to flip over, crawl and walk at their own pace, the parent needs to find out when their child is ready for structured learning of complex things, try it out and if you find our child anxious, more restless and not enjoying the activity.. leave it and do what they enjoy doing. There is joy in learning, not jitters. I am going to quote three very important paras from this paediatrician.
Children can’t learn and neurological pathways can’t form as easily when children’s nervous systems are experiencing stress. Forcing children to write, read, and spell, and giving them “standardized” tests before they are developmentally ready, will stress their nervous systems. Furthermore, children will dislike reading and will not want to go to school. If we insist on pushing writing, reading and spelling before the children’s minds are ready, we will continue to create an epidemic of behavior and learning difficulties, especially in our boys.
Activities like imaginary play, climbing, running, jumping, hopping, skipping, walking the balance beam, playing circle games, singing, playing catch, doing meaningful chores, painting, coloring, playing hand-clapping games, doing string games, and finger knitting will strengthen their minds for learning. Children need these healthy, harmonious, rhythmic, and noncompetitive movements to develop their brains. For it is the movements of their body that create the pathways in their mind for reading, writing, spelling, mathematics, and creative thinking. (Susan Johnson,M.D, Teaching Our Children)
Children who are ready to read and write should be able to pay attention and sit still in a chair for 20 minutes (without needing to wiggle or sit on their feet or wrap their feet around the legs of the chair). They should easily be able to balance on 1 foot with their arms stretched out in front of them (palms facing up) with both eyes open and then closed for 10 seconds and not lose their balance. They should be able to easily walk heel to toe on a balance beam. They should be able to reproduce patterns of abstract lines and curves (eg. numbers and letters) on a piece of paper with a pencil when someone draws these numbers and letters on their backs with a finger.
If children can’t do these tasks easily then they haven’t integrated their vestibular and proprioceptive (sensory-motor) systems, and they will have difficulty sitting still, listening, focusing their eyes, focusing their attention, and remembering their numbers and letters in the classroom.(Susan Johnson,M.D, Teaching Academics in Kindergarten)
So test your children based on the above given physical actions. If they are able to do these activities, it means their brain is developed enough to start reading, writing, spelling and math, then you can start these complext activities with them, if not… let them play!
A is able to recognize some letters but I felt that she was not able to link the sounds to real objects. She knew a is for apple but it was from memory, she has a very sharp memory MashaAllah and usually memorizes a lot of things without much effort. She did not understand that apple began with the sound ‘a’. I realized this when she was unable to do her worksheets and mostly when she was unable to proceed to the third lesson on reading eggs. I was quite worried. Then I read on K5 that Phenomic awareness was a pre-requisite to reading, even BEFORE knowing Phonics. I tried to do the phenomic awarenessi lesson on k5 with A, but she just did not understand. Then I read on a website.. a simple game to play.. begins with game.. just a simple verbal game. You just take an object and say.. orange begins with O O O Orange.. Ball begins with B B B Ball.. and so on. Two days of playing this game .. Alhamdulilah she finally understood the link between the letters and the words!
We played begins with game today again and afterwords read Jolly Stories. It was my good luck that I found this book in really good condition at a second hand book shop and got it for Rs.100 only! less than a pound, where as the new book costs Rs. 1000+
She enjoys this book alot and usually gets stuck on the ’n’ page. For some reason she is intrigued by the ‘dark’ night scenes . in mostly all the books. she recognizes s a t and n howvere she is still a little confused between m and n. She also confuses b with d.. butI havent really serioslly done any of these letters with her, so InshaAllah she will improve.
Today she did lesson 3, 4 and 5 on reading eggs MashaAllah with just a teeny weeny help from me. She is not very quick with the mouse pad and it takes a lot of time and needs A LOT of patience, which she usually doesn’t have.. but with a lot of support and encouragement and YOU CAN DO IT attitude she did it by herself. MashaAllah.