A Little Reader

I wanted to post a photo, but I can’t find the connecting cord. In any case, while Violet did her math, Victoria played Tux Paint on my computer. She started using the text function and called me in to show me the words she’d written — “tot” and “top”! So cute, to see her so proud of learning a little of writing and reading. She is clearly envious of Violet in this regard.

To draw some broad, exaggerated, oversimplified contrasts, I see in Violet that tendency to know something without knowing how — your brain does the work for you so quickly you don’t consciously know what its doing. Obviously this has significant advantanges and disadvantages as a learning style. As for reading — we kept her totally away from anything phonics related, because she was so plainly learning to read in the “whole word” way. When she started learning to read, her brain had already mastered those things like “silent e” and vowel combitions, “tion” to be “shun,” etc., though she could not have explained those rules, even though she could easily read the word “explanation.” We still experience that with math, which can make it hard for her to transfer skills from one type of problem to another, or to word problems. She can’t follow the same steps, because she didn’t follow any steps. She just looked and knew.

Victoria is different. She does pay attention to phonics, and so we encourage phonics learning with her. We often refer to her as our “little engineer,” given her acute observational skills and her love of taking things apart. Her excellent fine motor skills make that easy for her, and she seems to have a much more intuitive grasp of the physical world than either Violet or I do. This seems to relate to her style of learning to read, where she seems much more interested in the mechanics of how a word gets put together. Whether by choice or not, her brain doesn’t shoot forward and tell her what a word is before she consciously figures it out. Instead, she spends time with the word. I’ll be interested to see if this carries over to math and other areas of learning in the future.

This is why I found the whole thing about Einstein’s thought process interesting — not because I see Victoria as a future “Einstein” (whatever that means), but because it was such a powerful example of how processing speed, verbal ability, perceptual reasoning, etc. combine in so many different ways to produce different strengths and different learning paths.

The obvious challenge is that in many ways Violet learns like me, whereas Victoria’s style seems to be something I have to work to understand. That has its advantages for her — I confess I’m more easily frustrated with Violet, because my expectations are different, though I’m more patient with Victoria because I recognize that she needs something different from what I’m used to. In the long run, I hope that’s an advantage for Violet too, as our homeschooling becomes more flexible.

Off-kilter day today — we woke up late, and it’s sooooo hot outside. I dislike getting so little done before noon, but there it is. We still need to do some Chinese and piano today. But the girls aren’t going to want to go outside, so I don’t think that will be a problem. Maybe I should send them out in the heat first, so that sitting at the computer in front of the fan feels wonderful!



Filed under Home Preschool, Learning Styles, Our Philosophy (such as it is), Schoolday Doings, Why Homeschool?

3 responses to “A Little Reader

  1. Phonics are only moderately helpful as a way of explaining system. Sahra had some phonics work, but eventually they become next to useless, as every other damned word in English violates some “rule” (her alterna-school is Very whole-language, and there’s only recently been some attention to conventions and norms (i.e. “correct” spelling). We don’t deal with right and wrong where Sahra’s language is concerned, in her writing especially. She is fearless with words – constantly writing – and we want her riding that wave as Long As Possible.

    Nobody who actually reads does so in anything other than a whole word way. You take the word in at a glance, based largely on familiarity, you read past words making predictions about words that will follow, phrasings, etc. And of course you do this all unconsciously. I think really good readers can look bad sometimes, in that… Sahra will read sentences and unconsciously rearrange word order in a way that makes most grammatical sense to her. She caught herself doing this twice this weekend and went back and corrected herself (we certainly wouldn’t have corrected her).

    Where is this comment going? I have no idea. I just like writing about my kid.


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