"The most wasted of all days is one without laughter." ~e e cummings

Friday, January 20, 2012

the wild thing learns his letters

 Max is into the alphabet big time these days. I attribute his interest to the hour we spend on Phonemic Awareness every morning. Just kidding. It's probably Super Why. Or, maybe the Starfall app we have on the iPad. Or maybe it's the If Evan Can Do It, I Can, Too mentality of being a little brother. But it's definitely no thanks to me or any kind of formal instruction. Regardless of HOW he learned them, Max, at just over two years old, knows all of his letters and sounds. Trips to Target and Kroger take forever these days because he has to stop at every sign and point out each and every letter. He sounds out three-letter words with alarming accuracy. This isn't me bragging about him. This is me reassuring you that technology really CAN teach your child. So go heat up that now-cold cup of coffee, Mama, sit down on the couch with your kiddo, and turn on some PBS. The kids will be fine. Smarter, even.

The other night, as I was cooking dinner and Sam and Evan were upstairs playing highway robbery or something similar with Matchbox cars, Max played with his magnetic letters on the fridge.

He wasn't just placing the magnets willy nilly on the fridge, he was carefully considering where each should go. Each letter had a place to be, and he knew how to get them to match his vision. As he played, he talked quietly to himself...saying things like, "Oh, look! More with the dots!" and "Curvy with lines!" and "Lots and Lots of Ms for MAX! and MONKEY! and MOO-GOO-ga-LOO!" When he had finished his masterpiece, he stood back, called for my attention, and said, "TA-DA! All the letters together!"

For the first time, I really looked at what he had been working on...

He had, indeed, been sorting the letters. As I looked over his work, I noticed all the "letter with dots" together, the Ms were in a corner together, the Rs were patterned nicely, the letters with cross-lines, Fs and Ts, were partnered up, and there were random pairings of Ss, Vs, Os, Ns, and Ws.

As much as I was privy to through his self-talk throughout the sorting, though, I wish I had just stopped cooking and watched him. The teacher mommy in me would have loved to have watched his thought-processes play out in noticing similarities and differences and deciding which attributes to sort. The proud mommy in me would have been bursting as I watched my artistic little boy play with the shape and appearance of the letters, instead of just their names and sounds. 

But the Let's Get Dinner On The Table and The Kids To Bed mommy won. So instead, I had my back turned as I willed the pot to boil faster and scrambled to get apples sliced, yogurt served, milks poured, and broccoli, that I knew wouldn't be eaten anyway, prepared.

Lesson Learned:
Next time, let the pasta pot boil over. Don't miss these moments. And don't feel guilty about the TV, either.

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