Some people think that because I have a teaching background I should home school or that it should be easier for me to teach my own children. As mom, we are our children’s first teacher and there are some moms who are called to home school their children. I commend them! But, even though I was once a teacher, I am not called to teach my children at home.
When I taught high schoolers, I did not have kids of my own yet. I learned about different learning styles through my kids in my classroom. Not every kid learned the same and some kids picked up things faster than others. I had to become creative in my lessons to reach most of my students .
Yet, when I did have children of my own and it came time to teach them the fundamentals like letters, colors, numbers, and basic sight words, there were times I struggled to find what approach worked best.
My daughters are very different in their learning styles. Charlize is very much a self-motivator and always so curious, asking lots of questions and picking up things very quickly.
She used to tapped her little index finger to her nose and say,
Although adorable, it used to drive me bonkers because this was her default answer, even though she knew answer when asked questions she well knew the answers to.
Although, sometimes when trying to teach her letters, numbers or sight words, she would start to cry. I would survey other moms and ask if their children did the same thing when “mom” tried to teach their kids. I guess the general consensus was that some kids just don’t learn well or receive lessons well from the parent.
Why is that!? Is it because it’s “mom” and the relationship is too close? Is it because they fear that if they get an answer wrong they will get in trouble by “mom”? There really is no telling why some kids just don’t receive teaching well when its coming from a parent.
Because Charlize was my first daughter, I sometimes made the mistake of comparing her to my friend’s kids. Once I had a friend come over with her daughter the same age as Charlize. This friend’s daughter was enrolled in a private school for Preschool. When her daughter came over one day, I heard her read so well and I was so impressed for her age!
Then I did the awful mistake some moms tend to do! I compared my friend’s daughter’s reading level against my own daughter’s reading level. Charlize was four years old and she didn’t know some of her sight words, let alone ready to read full sentence books.
I started to worry whether she would be behind in Kindergarten. Why do we moms do that to ourselves and to our kids? I started pushing Charlize to learn more words and learn to read. I worried she wouldn’t be at the level I figured she needed to be.
Can I tell you how much crap I believed?? It was crap!
By the time Charlize was in Kindergarten, she knew how to write her full name, address, phone number and knew basic sight words to read short sentences books. Now she reads so well in First Grade and is doing absolutely perfect on every spelling tests and reading book. She even enjoys school and loves to read!
I seriously was mad at myself that I worried and compared my smart baby girl to other friend’s children.
So having learned a little with my first kiddo, when it came time to teach Isabelle, I started out using some of the same resources I did with Charlize.
I purchased ABCmouse.com. We did fun flashcards with letters, numbers, and colors. I found fun apps on my iPad to give her some other activities for learning. I bought magnet letters for the fridge and letters that stuck to the tiles in the bathtub.
Charlize was in full day Kindergarten around the time Isabelle was three, so I had the opportunity most days for one on one time with her.
Isabelle wanted to go to school like her big sister, so I enrolled her into a Part Day Preschool that met twice a week for five hours. She learned some basics, had play time, lunch, and then home. It was perfect for a few hours each week and she loved the friends she made. The teacher never expressed any concerns. When I would ask her what she learned in Preschool I always got the typical answer, “Um…I don’t remember” or “Uh…uh…I don’t know”
I tried to reinforced whatever was going on in Preschool. So, when she wasn’t in school throughout the week, we would try to work on identifying the ABCs and their sounds. She just wasn’t as motivated to learn them though.
As we ended the school year, I bought some things to work on over the summer. It was busy at the beginning of the summer as we were prepping for a big PCS (Permanent Change of Station with the Army) move to Hawaii that June. I bought traceable paper with the ABC’s already indented into the paper. I bought write on flash cards with words and pictures that began with the letter on one side and a traceable letter on the back. I bought workbooks from stores that I thought might be fun and help her with learning.
But her lack of motivation eventually turned into crying. Isabelle started to cry to full blown bawling sessions when it came time to learning letters and numbers. If asked to tell me what one letter sounds like, I had to exude as much patience as I could before I became upset and frustrated myself!
I couldn’t tell you why she was crying. She couldn’t tell me why she was crying. So out of frustration, many lessons started were quickly finished.
(I want to believe it is just a phase, just like that phase when she hated snow AND sand. She would bawl and just cry in fear of snow and sand! I prayed really hard after we received orders to Hawaii. I prayed that Isabelle would learn to not only love the snow, but more importantly sand, because we were about to be surrounded by lots of it! Her aversion for the snow eventually went away shortly after Chris came home from deployment that winter. So that was a nice change to see her actually go out and PLAY in it.)
For now and for whatever reason, any time she is asked to name a letter, wrote her own name or identify numbers, she instantly shuts down and the lip starts to quiver! The tears begin to fall and it is taking every ounce of patience I have left, not to get frustrated or angry because she is crying instantly and not trying.
Because of Isabelle’s birthday being in August 21st and the early cut-off for Kindergarten is July 31st (Mahalo Hawaii for your early cut-off) she won’t start next year even though she will be already be five years old. I know there will be several kids in the same boat.
I know not to compare my children because every child is different. It is just frustrating when I know she IS so smart and she knows most of her letters, can verbally count to 20 at least, and can verbally spell her name, yet she makes it a challenge when it comes to writing it or identifying the specific letters.
We are still working on getting her to write the letters in her name correctly and in the right order. She doesn’t know how to write her last name yet. I know…it will come.
I will continue to find other resources that might work best for her learning style, but for now I am at a loss. Because big sis is a big First Grader now and reads very well, there are times that Charlize tries to help her little sister out.
But, no matter how “fun” or exciting I try to make the Alphabets, Isabelle still has those moments of shutdown and then its all over.
What learning approaches could you share with this mommy? Any stories or experiences to share?
I know this is just the beginning and once we get past this hurdle, it will be something new. I will at least know how to teach her writing, reading, and English literature. When she starts learning Trigonometry or Calculus, I’m sending her to Uncle J.J.,( the software engineer). Daddy can teach both girls history…and how to drive! I won’t even attempt that.