Teaching toddlers to pre-K

Discussion in 'The Classroom' started by mzgarden, Jul 25, 2017.

  1. mzgarden

    mzgarden Well-Known Member

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    Looking for some input on the right age to begin to ask a toddler-preK age child to practice writing letters. Background is that I now have my 3 year old granddaughter two nights/2 days a week. Her parents both work and she's at in-home day care with other kids 3 days a week. She's a happy girl and I love spending time with her. Her parents and her other sitter think she should be learning to write her letters (she's not interested) and I'm thinking she might be a bit young yet.

    When she's with me, we do a lot of learning, just not much of 'sit at a table, hold a pencil and write the letter A across the paper' type of stuff. We read a lot of books and she's learning to recognize that letters grouped together make words and recognizes lots of words. She knows her colors and can count, so we do a lot of matching, opposites kind of games. We color 'inside the lines' sort coins, plant seeds, pick the garden, collect eggs. She helps me bake mini-muffins, decorate cupcakes, wash dishes, set the table, make the bed, play outside type of stuff. We talk about all the things we do, why it's important, where eggs come from, how vegetables grow, etc. .My thinking is that at this age (3), game playing that focuses on big and small motor skills, letters to word transition, spelling words with magnetic letters on the refrigerator type of stuff is more age appropriate for 3-4 years old.

    If I'm on the right track -- at what age do you begin to focus on actually learning to write letters?
     
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  2. akhomesteader

    akhomesteader Well-Known Member

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    I think you are definitely on the right track! Your granddaughter is getting a great start and learning so much with you! My youngest son needed vision therapy when he was 7 because he had tunnel vision and one of his eyes turned off to the outside when he looked at anything closer than about two feet away. The doctor commented to me that he could tell the issues were not from starting to read too early. He said that most of his patients are homeschool children (I homeschool, too), and that many of the vision problems he treats are caused by the child having to read and write before their eyes are ready for that type of work. At your granddaughter's age, their eyes are meant to see large things and to see things at a distance. Close work is possible, but not good for them, and can even cause permanent damage. As their eyes develop and they can comfortably read and write, they will show more of an interest. As adults, we know when we've had enough time on the computer or reading a book. We get restless or tired, or just feel like we need to move and do something else. Your granddaughter doesn't have the verbal skills to explain why she doesn't want to read and write, but she just knows she needs to get outside or do something else. She would probably sit there and do it if you insisted, but it would require so much more of her now than it would if you wait until her eyes are fully developed. Sounds like she loves learning. I wouldn't ruin that love (or her eyes) by forcing her to spend time with paper and pencil at this wonderful age. When a child is ready, they learn to write very quickly. When it's a struggle, there's usually some other problem. Your instincts are right and I think you're doing great!
     
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  3. SLFarmMI

    SLFarmMI Well-Known Member

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    You are absolutely on the right track. There is absolutely no reason to start writing instruction this young especially since she is not interested. I wouldn't really even focus on the spelling words with magnetic letters at this point. I would focus on the games and activities that you described above. I would also add in rhyming games and phonemic awareness games (you can Google those if you need ideas). Basically at this age focusing on those readiness skills is where you want to target your efforts -- fine and gross motor skills, coloring, learning the alphabet and phonemic awareness.
     
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  4. wdcutrsdaughter

    wdcutrsdaughter Well-Known Member

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    I've studied and worked with children in early education settings for over 20 years. You are on the right track by not pushing things on her. There is PLENTY of time. What young children need most of is free time for unstructured play that they create on their own with their imagination and simple toys and materials. Less is more as it requires the brain to develop. That the basis for later academic learning.

    You may find this a helpful read
    https://www.thehomeschoolmom.com/delayed-academics-dont-delay-learning/

    Someone explained it to me this way - you can probably force an acorn to sprout but if you allow it to sprout in it's own time you'll grow a stronger tree.

    Best to you!

    Edited to add - sing songs, nursery rhymes for language development :)
     
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  5. Hitch

    Hitch Well-Known Member

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    My wife is a speech-language pathologist and we own a private practice. She has specialized in early intervention therapy for 17-years. I asked her and said "oh-no, that's way too young for that!" What she said is 5 for a normally developing child. But she did preface that by saying, it also depends what else is going on. Meaning, if she's writing letters but can't put together short phrases could mean something else is going on.
     
  6. mzgarden

    mzgarden Well-Known Member

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    Thanks everyone, glad to know I'm on the right track. I think I'll just continue what I'm doing with little stair step challenges to growth and see how she grows. She's curious, attentive to details and very verbal so I know she's paying attention. Last thing I want to do is shut down that joy of discovering new stuff.
     
  7. Hitch

    Hitch Well-Known Member

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    Honestly, by just playing and communicating with her is all you need to do. We see so many kids where the parents are too busy on their own phones to read or play with their children or they just hand them a phone or iPad to play with. That is the cause of most communication delays we see today.
     
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  8. In The Woods

    In The Woods Well-Known Member

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    I am only a homesteder who raised a daughter.

    I don't understand why the big push by the younger generation to get their kids to do things too early. Is it a thing like they can brag to their friends and coworkers?

    I am firmly against all day daycare for kids under school age. I see so many parents chasing the almightly dollar sending their infants and toddlers to day care. Someone else is raising their kids! That age is so impressionable yet they aren't even rasing them themselves.

    OK - with that out of the way....I didn't push my daughter at all. From the time she was born until in the 5th grade we lived off grid. That means no TV or electronics. For entertainment and relaxing time we all read. She was brought up with books and became an avid reader - but at her own pace. From when she was a baby I read to her every day. After a while (I forget at what age) she started picking up the books herself and actually started reading on her own. I would only help her if she asked.

    So I think you are doing great with your grand daughter. There is no set timeline for any of these learning abilities - every kid is different. Bit this younger society seems to have to put a number on everything - when a kid should be reading, writing, etc. I feel a young child is going to learn more in a relaxed environment (but structured of course) than being pushed.
     
  9. wdcutrsdaughter

    wdcutrsdaughter Well-Known Member

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    I really feel what you're saying here in this quote above. It's funny to have studied to be a preschool teacher, then worked at it for many years only to come to the conclusion that children should be at home. I sound like a lunatic to some, but I agree - what is the darn rush ?!
    BUT
    I think many, many families do not have a choice and both parents must work to make ends meet and that is why more and more children are growing up in child care centers. Not to mention single parents. Part of that is culture's push that we must have more and more - big house, nice car, vacation, pool, etc, etc. It's possible some folks end up working and working to keep up a certain life style (chasing the dollar) . But it's just because they are following what culture and society promote. Not really thinking about it. They are not thinking they are short changing their children the simple life of growing up at home instead of in a child care center. My DH says, "some people are too busy to think so they do what they are told"
     
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  10. ShannonR

    ShannonR hillbilly farmgirl

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    I wouldn't miss my son's earliest years for the world. I get a lot of family and others telling me I need to get a job or whatever, they need to mind their own business and let me raise my kid! Plenty of time for that later.
    I don't have a ton of money, but I do have enough that I don't need to pawn my infant off on someone else while I run the rat race. I don't want anyone else raising my child, I got this...
     
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  11. In The Woods

    In The Woods Well-Known Member

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    I can appreciate what you are saying, but.....

    I just don't buy into societal demands - never have and never will. My wife stayed home with my daughter when she was young so we could raise her and not some stranger. Sure - times were tough but we made it work.

    I think all this societal demand is because people are too worried about what other people think. They feel they have to have the big house, expensive vehicles, etc.. All this so they think they look good in front of their neighbors and coworkers.

    I don't care what anyone else thinks of me - why should I?

    I know I am getting off on a rant now - sorry.
     
  12. wdcutrsdaughter

    wdcutrsdaughter Well-Known Member

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    I don't buy into societal demands either. And you're totally right about people caring too much about what other people think. And so many people think they need to push their kids into all kinds of extra curricular things too - piano, sports, languages, science clubs. The current state of things is a very ego driven world. This push to be first, and best.
    Good for you for doing what you wanted and not caring about what other people think. I am of the same mindset, and sometimes it can be lonely - so nice to "meet" you In The Woods.
    We won't rant anymore, it's not even good for our health. :)
     
  13. cfuhrer

    cfuhrer Wood Nymph / Toxophilite

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    Exactly. I tried to teach mine to write at five and he was not having it. So we stepped back and focused on reading and using manipulatives (letter magnets, foam letters, etc) to make words.

    He is six and still doesn't like to write but at least it's not as frustrating as it was before.
     
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  14. mzgarden

    mzgarden Well-Known Member

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    Glad for the confirmation. I've had our girl with us for two days/week now for 5 weeks. She's a joy to be with.
     
  15. FCLady

    FCLady Well-Known Member

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    I homeschool (twins going into 5th grade now). We had my 3 year old grandson for a couple of months while my oldest daughter relocated to go back to college. Alex wanted to "go to school" too. So while I homeschooled the older two, Alex and I made a notebook with one letter on each page. We traced large block letters and he scribbled on them. Then he got to listed to songs on the CD player. His attention span is pretty short so "school" didn't last long. But by the time he went home he had a notebook with the letter A on the first page, alligator on the next page, letter B on the next page a bee on the next page etc. So he could look and "read" to his mommy when we took him to his new home.