I am a firm believer that when a child is ready to learn a skill it will happen very quickly and smoothly. If forced before their readiness, it will be an uphill battle.
With Ewan, reading, writing and art (specifically with paper) exploded just after he
turned 4 years old – he could not get enough paper to keep himself busy (we are lucky that we have many family members gathering scrap paper for Ewan). Whether it was creating paper objects (treadmills, glasses etc.), drawing his own pictures and writing words or reading books.
2 years ago we began the All About Reading program (it has since made some changes that I am not yet familiar with). It appealed to me because the lessons were as long the child was interested – even 5 minutes was enough time to make some progress. The whole program is 20 lesssons – we are currently on 16. Sometimes we do it each day and other times we take a month or more break. But Ewan has retained every rule and sound combination that we have reviewed and his reading and confidence is incredible.
In the month of September, Ewan also came up with the idea of him and I collaborating
together on a book. He wanted to turn a bedtime story that I had made up for him into a book and then into an audio book. We took on the project by first making a book. I wrote out the story. He read each page and then illustrated the book. Afterwards he filmed me while I read the story – I love his introduction. Ewan said he will keep it to read to his children ❤
To encourage more writing we have been writing letters to friends and family. I have also picked up some note books as Ewan really enjoyed writing stories last year at school. Ewan is now writing a ‘Pokedex’ Pokemon book with all new original pokemon that he has created along with the information on their health points, attacks and damage points. He is currently making a blog where he introduces his new pokemon to the world! You can have a sneak peak here, he has completed his About Me section.
Ewan is not always eager to read and write. I try to pair his reading lesson with breakfast as we are all sitting at the table together. Before his spelling and writing skills had improved, I would also write down the descriptions of his pictures as the effort would turn him off of drawing. Another sure way to encourage reading and writing is for me to sit on the couch to read or to journal myself. It is only a matter of minutes before the kids also have their books and journals out and are busy at work.
Read aloud chapter books or story books are never an issue, I think the kids could listen to books being read by Alan or I all day long! Recent stories have been Beatrix Potter and Curious George for Isla. We have read the Little House on the Prairie for both kids. Ewan and Alan have read the first 3 Harry Potter books (the next ones will wait until he is older). We are also spending a lot of time getting research and story books from the local library every second week.
I am slowly learning to trust the kids own natural curiosity and try not to push through my own agenda. Although I do strategically leave out invitations that may be of interest to the them, such as envelopes, stamps and paper or new notebooks waiting to be filled, the kids will often come up with their own ideas. These ideas then usually take on a life of their own.