This didn't come as a complete surprise. He's young, he's John, and kindergarten is much harder today than forty years ago.
I taught Tim and Kolbe to read. I bought Teach Your Child To Read and away we went. Thirty lessons into the book, both boys were reading. No sweat.
I didn't try this with John. At three both John's mother and his pre-school teacher wondered if he were color blind. Everything -- from stop signs to bananas -- was "greent". Color-blindness runs in my family, so I wasn't unduly alarmed.
But then John learned his colors. And color-blind people, see, they don't learn their colors with time or effort or anything. Ever. So something else was behind this.
A number of other factors (some being my time and John's temperament) led me to back off and not push.
He started kindergarten, and I started getting concerned phone calls.
To my credit and as clear evidence that I have Come a Long Way, Baby! in the areas of faith, hope, and love, I did not panic. I cried after one phone call. I prayed. Mostly I spent a lot of time thinking through all my Montessori training and perusing Amazon for items that might be helpful.
Ten weeks and a whole lot of money later, here's what we're doing:
1. Teach Your Child To Read In 100 Easy Lessons
Excellent book. Simple and clear instructions.
2. Mommy, Teach Me to Read
This book arrived in my home on a Friday, and just three days later the author, Barbara Curtis, died unexpectedly. Her life's work lives on in books that celebrate children and help families enjoy learning together.
3. Lacing Cards
As you can see, Ainsley's mastered this skill.
4. Stringing Beads
Great for fine motor skills and patterning.
5. Japanese Water Painting
A huge hit for kids of all ages. Adults love it, too. Buy one and put it in a public area like a kitchen island or the break room in the office. Everyone will enjoy it. And no clean up required!
6. The Bob Books
Ainsley calls these "the blah blah books." Easy, easy first readers designed to build confidence through success. Kolbe HATED these; John loves them.
7. Matching Games
A great memory building game. Lewis Carroll fans will recognize the Cheshire Cat. John calls it The Pressure Cat which cracks me up to no end.
Fine motor skills and the added fun of the whole board exploding when time runs out.
School has been difficult for John. Is this a problem or an opportunity?
In the long run, this may indeed prove to be a problem. For right now, though, it has given me an opportunity to spend lots more time with John and Ainsley than I would have otherwise. That admission -- that John had to encounter academic problems for me to sit down and string beads with him -- could be a topic for another post (or maybe a book!). Life is fast-paced. Rather than feeling guilty, I'm choosing to be inspired.
Barbara Curtis wrote this:
Look closely at children's activities and you will see a sense of purposefulness, working toward understanding and mastering their small worlds . . .Today I'm grateful for a new opportunity to enter into John's small world.
God gives the child this drive to explore and learn. You see it clearly in the toddler years: learning is what we are made for. It is our drive to learn that causes us to seek to know more about God and the world he created for us. Watch any preschooler learning to peel carrots, write his name, or count his pennies -- you will see a child completely engrossed, a child who isn't learning because he has to, but because he wants to, a child who loves to learn.
P.S. All these items are available on Amazon. I'm now their favorite customer.