Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Waiting Until the Change of Teeth

I want to share my personal experience with my second daughter. Leah turned 6 on November 14, 2009. She had just lost her first four baby teeth within the previous few months. She also can ride her bicycle with no training wheels. So when she turned 6 I told her I would get her some early readers for her birthday. I bought the first two sets of the Bob Books

These are not my favorite beginning readers but they are short and give a feeling of success. The description by the author talks about a child's short attention span but that's only if you're cramming reading down a poor two year old's throat. My daughter -- who was ready to read -- read 6 in her first sitting. She insisted that we sit in the car outside the bookstore and read them right away. She zipped through all 24 of these books in a few weeks, asked in early December for set 3, read it, progressed through the Dick and Jane books, and is now picking picture books off the shelf and decoding them. This morning she read all of What Mommies Do Best/ What Daddies Do Best.

Mind you, she began to read on November 14th. Today is December 30th.

I have a good friend who is a traditional teacher and thinks Waldorf is pure baloney. But when I talked to him about Leah and the "change of teeth" idea, he came up with an interesting point. He said that waiting until the child was (these are his words) "past developmentally ready" meant that reading was EASY which makes it FUN which means they are excited to do it and soak it up. I certainly can testify to that. A bored restless tired child who is forced to sound out words ad infinitum can only lead to associations of reading being unpleasant tortuous work. Instead, I have a child who begs me to not turn off the light at night so that she can read a little longer and is literally up at sunbreak so that she can get up and read.

This is my experience. I've never done a true Waldorf way with the dictated/written/transcribed main lesson book pages alongside a little phonics teaching and the child looks down at what he or she has written one day and has that AHA! moment. This is because my children are in school and I'm no longer able to homeschool. But I can testify that waiting until the change of teeth has worked well for Leah.

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