We hit a snag in Bear's reading/writing progress - a speech disorder.
I haven't blogged for a while because I completely lost confidence. Nothing seemed to be working out. We weren't making progress. I didn't understand what the problem was. Was it the method? Was it my application? A piece of the puzzle was missing...
The first clue:
We started playing the Montessori sound game a while ago. It seemed to be going well on level 1 - Bear was participating happily and seemed interested.
I would say "I'm holding something that starts with 'p'"
He would say "'ig".
"I'm holding something that starts with 'd'"
"something that starts with 'h'"
"something that starts with 'c'"
"something that starts with 't'"
We weren't able to move on to level 2. He wasn't saying the first sound of words. He didnt seem to realise the sound should be there.
So I abandoned the sound games all together. I thought that maybe it was too early for him. Or maybe I wasn't doing it the right way.
The second clue:
Bear has a little friend who has spoken perfectly from 18 months old. Her mum recently said to me: "Vicky P was doing the funniest thing... She's been speaking in this strange way and I couldn't figure why... Then I heard Bear and I realised she's been imitating him!!"
Hmmm... Is he speaking in such a strange way that she would think to copy him? He does speak in a funny way...
The third clue:
I was sitting at the table with the boys eating afternoon tea. Bear had brought a book to the table as he often does. He said to me conversationally:
"av ite on oe ee an ee"
To which I responded "pardon Bear?"
"av ite on oe ee an ee" He patiently replied.
"Sorry can you please say that again?"
"av ite on oe ee an ee."
"Sorry Bear. Again?"
"Av ITE on oe ee an EE"
"I'm sorry Bear. I'm trying to understand you. Can you please say it again?"
Frustration building "Av ITE ON oe ee an EE!"
Me: A look of apology and helplessness.
Bear: "Av ITE ON oe ee an EE!"
Me: A shrug
Bear: Pointing to the ceiling and almost bursting with frustration "Av ITE ON oe ee an EE!!"
Me: Finally understanding - "OOoohhh!!! Sorry Bear - 'Have the light on so we can see'!! I'll turn the light on for you right away!!"
This scenario was happening more and more as his vocabulary was expanding and his sentences were getting longer. I was struggling to understand him. He was struggling to be understood.
I arranged a speech assessment with a private speech pathologist and yes - he has errors that aren't developmentally normal. A second assessment with community health yielded the same result.
Bear hasn't realised that some sounds exist. He can hear them and understand them but he hasn't realised he can make them. He needs to make them to be understood. There are lots of sounds he is missing!
My judgement was right about the Montessori sound game. Bear isn't ready for Level 1 yet. He needs some extra preparation. He needs more help to become aware of the sounds he's neglecting.
I have a lot of work to do to help him.
We have a lot of appointments to attend.
We have a lot of songs to sing and lots of games to play!
I'm excited and relieved to be back on track. We know what the problem is and what we need to do about it. We have been given some beautiful homework that looks like so much fun. I can't wait to get started.
"The foundations for literacy are love and encouragement. The basement is constructed from the joy of being read to, knowledge of the world, a language-rich environment, development of the senses and control of the body. The ground floor rooms are made from an awareness of the sounds in language. The upper floor is created from the ability to attach symbols to sounds and the attic is made from the skill of using those symbols to express your own thoughts. The roof is reading and writing. In such a house a child's mind can reside for a rewarding lifetime and no hurricane can blow it down." Montessori Read & Write. Lynne Lawrence.
I would like to help Bear learn to read just as soon as he is able. I am excited about the world that reading can open up for him. I believe - as Montessori describes - that he will be able to learn this skill effortlessly and joyfully at this age - two and a half. However I am realising more and more that Montessori doesn't mean that he will learn automatically. He needs to be given the right environment and the right materials at the right time to allow the magic to happen.
That means I need to train myself, and do it quickly!
What an enormous and intimidating task.
I am learning a tremendous amount from the book "Montessori Read & Write" by Lynne Lawrence. It is written for parents to be used at home. So far I'm up to page 65...
I have begun with some self-reflection
If I want Bear to love reading it will help if I show him that I love reading too.
Do I love reading? I have never been a reader. Reading for pleasure has not been something I have ever made time for. I study from text books. I read the bible. I read books to learn about Montessori, gardening, etc. I don't think that really counts!
So I've started picking up a book instead of watching TV when I'm having a break.
We've started reading a lot everyday
Bear and I were reading sporadically. I've made a time for reading part of our routine now. We read for at least half an hour before getting ready for bed. I choose some books and Bear chooses some books. Sometimes Bear wants us to sit separately. More and more he is choosing to sit next to me and to let me read to him. He is showing interest in a growing range of books and paying attention for longer. Fox crawls around on the floor and looks at his little board books or Ranger takes him away to play somewhere else.
We read together at other times if we feel like it and Bear will often choose to read on his own.
* I don't read books with Bear in bed for a couple of reasons. He is too tired to concentrate once he's in bed. I'm not as comfortable on his bed as I am sitting on the couch. Finally the "just one more, mum" discussion is too much for me at the end of the day - I do what I can to avoid it!
We're investing in a children's library
I have found many wonderful books second hand at op shops and online. They are always worth a look. Special books I buy new online. We also visit the library often and bring a selection home.
Montessori Read & Write has lots of great advice about choosing books for children of different ages. The things that I'm looking for at the moment for Bear (2.5 years):
- beautiful and interesting illustrations
- short stories with a simple plot
- a small amount of text per page
- rhymes, poems and songs
- content that is real - especially based around the world he has experienced
Bear's favourite books along with a selection that is frequently rotated is displayed on the special children's shelves. All the other children's books are together on the low bookcase above. Bear can access them whenever he likes. He is getting better at putting books back but that is usually still my job.
The Montessori sound game
We have only just started to play the Montessori sound game. We play as often as I think of it when we're at home and Bear seems receptive. Bear will play 2 or 3 times in a row before loosing interest. The objects have to be very simple and I need to be very precise with my clue.
I say "I'm holding something that starts with 'sss' ", Bear says "sss-spoon" (he pronounces it "sss-oon"). Or "I'm pointing to something that starts with 'wuh'", Bear says "wuh-watermelon" (wuh-auta-elon"). Or "there's something on my head that starts with 'huh'", Bear says "huh-hat!".
He is starting to get the hang of it. He's starting to look proud when he gets it right! It's helping him articulate better as well.
I'm a bit confused about this step. I'm not sure if we should be starting to recognise letters yet. I haven't reached that part of the book yet! I understand that it is important that reading is purposeful and that each step is fun and useful on it's own. i.e. flashcards are not part of the Montessori approach because they are not purposeful in isolation. Thus this kind of rote learning is forgotten easily and so not worth the effort.
So I am preceding cautiously and observing him carefully. He is very interested.
We have started naming the letters for Bear phonetically with this puzzle. We show him 2 or 3 letters at a time and name them using a 3 period lesson.
He loves this puzzle and at times asks for the rest of the letters. It is a real challenge for him but one he is able to achieve on his own with patience. He only knows a few of the letters but he understands that they all have names and asks me to name them from time to time.
This post has mostly been about Bear. I haven't forgotten Fox!
Fox is 10 months old now. He love being read to. His favourite books are "Ten little fingers and ten little toes" and "Hello Baby" by Mem Fox. He giggles as soon as I show them to him. He also loves turning the pages of a book by himself. He chooses books with photos of animals.
We're building the basement of his reading and writing house at the moment - giving him the joy of being read to, knowledge of the world, a language-rich environment, development of the senses and control of the body. He's started his journey toward reading too!
My name is Vicky I am wife to Ranger and mum to two boys - Bear (2) and Fox (8 months). Somehow I stumbled across Montessori and now my goal is to raise and educate my children with a Montessori philosophy in country NSW Australia.