Wednesday, September 16, 2009

What should a 4 year old know?

I didn't sign Melissa up for preschool this year; instead we joined a preschool co-opt with other mothers. The moms take turns teaching once a week. I did something similar with Matthew when he was three, and he had a ball. I mainly joined so that Melissa could get used to taking turns and have fun being with kids her own age.

Academically, I was a little concerned about my merry miss. She's bright, but she isn't interested the same things Matthew was at her age. Matthew was driven. Just shy of three he wanted to write his name. Since he couldn't hold a pencil well yet, we showed him how to type it. I let him play with the "craptop" and when I'd come back the whole screen would look something like this:

matthewmatthewmatthew matthewmatthew matthewmatthewmatthew matthewmatthewmatthewmatthewmatthew matthewmatthewmatthewmatthew

At 4 1/2 he wanted to read. When he had trouble making many sounds and thus making phonics impossible, we sent him to a speech therapist. After six months with the speech therapist, his reading took off and he practically taught himself. I didn't have to encourage him, he wanted to learn!

Melissa is very different. Verbally she is light years ahead of where Matthew was, but she is happy making up her own fantasy games and doodling. She knows her letters and sounds, but she is content with that. Numbers puzzle her. Counting is a mystery though she recognizes the numbers. She has yet to express any interest in reading or writing.

As I wrote earlier, I was concerned initially. I've done some thinking though, and have decided that eventually she will learn- in her own time. She isn't Matthew. She is Melissa! For now I will just enjoy the differences and teach her through play. She likes arts&crafts, and she loves games. We use M&Ms, raisins, and marshmallows to count and decorate things. We go around the house finding things in 2s, 3s, and 4s. I got her a colorful book of cutting with scissors and games in it. We practice handwriting in different bright colors. (Guess which color is her favorite?) I'm working with her on listening and following simple directions. Lastly we read and tell stories. We go to the library once a week and get a big pile of books; easy readers for Matthew and colorful storybooks for Melissa. Often Melissa likes to make up her own stories to tell back to me.

We're just keepin' it simple, keepin' it fun.

I also came across an article written by a wise homeschooling mom that really resonated with me. She offered her own list of what a 4 year old should know. It's a great article that focuses on what is really important for little ones.

Here's a site that lists basic skills that preschoolers typically master at some point

Here's hoping that this is the right approach with this one!


Telitha said...

I am a little bummed I haven't gotten a co-op together for James! He is not into writing at all... maybe I should try the typing approach! Melissa sounds like she's doing just fine:)

Telitha said...

I have to add that the article was a great reminder about what's really important-thanks for posting it!