As you probably know, I have a preschooler, who is soon-to-be a kindergartener (YAY!!). And while September is really a ways off, I’ve been spending time over the last several months thinking about how to prepare him for school.
We’ve attended programs run by the Early Years Centre which happen in the school that Sam will attend. We’ve take advantage of the programs run at the library too. We read at lot at home, we sing, we even attend music programs that the EYC runs too. He started occasional daycare in the fall with a woman in our neighbourhood, so he would get used to the idea that someone else can take care of him for part of the day and that I will always come to get him when the day is over.
He knows his colours, he sings the alphabet, he can easily count to 10 without error, and stumbles his way up to 20. He can even count backwards; easily from 5, and with some struggle from 10.
The thing is, if you point to a block or something and ask him, “What colour is this?” he will answer, but it won’t be right. The block might be yellow, but he’ll say it’s orange. And while he can see A B C D stamped on the side of a playground structure and say, “Hey! It’s the ABCD’s,” and launch into song, he cannot look at a single letter and recognize it. He can count, but has no number recognition.
And don’t even get me started on writing his letters… We’re working on concepts like holding the writing instrument (crayon, pencil, marker, pen, whatever he chooses) in the correct position. He doesn’t like it, but he can do it. But then: ask him to outline a pre-drawn letter? You may as well cut off his arm.
Yes, I know you don’t start from nothing and go to letter tracing. We have lots of sheets where you connect the dots to make straight lines, or boxes, or triangles or whatever. He did that activity ONCE. Every time I have suggested it since he has forcibly declined. The one thing that’s been drilled into my head by Connor’s teachers is that learning at home must stay fun. Do not force the child to do what the child does not want to do. Tears, yelling, temper-tantrums should not be a factor in learning at home. The Special Education Advisor who has worked with Connor stresses that the hard work should be done at school, so that home continues to be a safe place to explore concepts. It is because of this that I do not force the issue with Sam.
Thing is… this causes me stress. I have no facts to back up this opinion, but I believe that the majority of Sam’s classmates will have spent a significant portion of their toddler & preschool years in daycare. When Connor was in daycare, they worked with him on writing his letters (he could write his name before he started school), number & letter recognition, and hell — they even helped him learn to colour inside the lines! Sam can do none of these things. No, not even colour within the lines. He acts as though to do so would affect his creativity; “I will not be confined by your LINES, Mother.”
So my expectation is that come September, Sam will start school (full day, thank you GOD) with a classroom full of peers who can write and read their own names, write and recognize letters of the alphabet, and their numbers too. Sam can verbally spell his name, and like I said earlier, he can say the alphabet and count… but he can’t read or write.
I worry that I have not set him up for success. Isn’t that my job as a parent? To make sure my kids are equipped to face the challenges the world throws at them? How can I get him to where he should be come September, while respecting the “fun learning at home” rule?
No seriously: I’m asking for your advice. PLEASE HELP ME!