Monday, January 07, 2008

Learning to Read - 12/27/2007

So Kai is starting to read and I'm looking for day to day ways to integrate learning techniques in to life rather than have sit down sessions to teach him. Supposedly I learned how to read at his age (actually a bit younger), and my memory of it was playing with my sister and a Montessori reading kit that my mother bought. It had flash cards and all sorts of games in it that were geared towards learning to read. Luckily my sister liked playing with it with me so in essence, my older sister taught me to read at a very young age. By the time I was in kindergarten I was reading at a 3rd grade level. The beginning of may public school problems for me in my life...

Anyway, Kai is sounding words out on his own and really is initiating all of this so I want to figure out ways to help him in his own process, as opposed to pushing a process on him which is what makes school and learning so painful.

He's had a regular computer for about a year and a half. My friend upgradedand gave him her old PC, and another friend gave him her old 15" flat screenmonitor when she upgraded as well. What I did was wipe my friends PC, locked it down tight from a security and age appropriate perspective, then we tend to leave WordPad open so he can type letters. I keep caps lock on and make the font size really large for him.

Other applications he uses regularly are his e-mail and the internet browser. He e-mails family and likes to send pictures to his cousin. Last year for his birthday he got the Kid's Tough Digital Camera so he's always taking pictures of me and the cat to load on his PC which is a lot of fun for him. I have to help him with the uploads, but his screen saver is the folder where we keep all the photos.

When he was about 18 months old he was animal obsessed so I downloaded about 500 photos of wild animals and set the screen saver up to randomly display them. He loved it and would name each animal as they came on the screen. Then we did the same thing with the alphabet. I've set up a favorites folder for him on his internet browser where we keep all of the sites he likes to play on so they're easily accessible. He's pretty good with the mouse and using it. He's made quick work of the alphabet site at Starfall.

Another thing that we have set up is a webcam so he can do video chats with his cousin in New Orleans. They both use Skype so they can sit in front of the computer and talk.

Lastly, he sometimes watched DVD's on it, but that's not going to continuenow that the PC is in my room/office.

Anyway, we just moved his computer from his room in to mine. His biggest complaint about his computer is that he can't work WITH me. Since I work from home part of the week, he wanted to be able to work at his computer along side of me, which is actually pretty cool. It also makes it easier for me to help him when he is working at it since I only have to reach over to him as opposed to getting up every 10 minutes to go in to his room which was really discouraging both of us and became pretty frustrating. He's been in here with me for the last half hour or so sitting at the next desk typing words. It's already so much nicer! I'm working and he's got WordPad up, asking me how to spell one word at a time so he can type them out. I just realized that down the road this is going to make the homework process so much easier and more fun for him as well.

Still, I'm realizing that telling him how to spell words is still a bit of a disconnect, so I was thinking of giving him a stack of flash cards to keep by the computer so he can see the pictures and type the words, but I just feel like that's begging for a mess. Then I thought of maybe printing out labels and sticking them on everything in the house so when he looks at an object he's got the spelling of the word to go along with it. I made labels for everything in the house last night. OMG! He's been so excited. He's been walking around the house pointing at things, naming them, then spelling them. He's given me a new list of word labels to make for things he wants to spell but I haven't labeled yet. It was a serious Helen Keller moment.

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