We're excited to introduce you to Cassity, a new contributor to our blog. She has the experience of years of teaching and now is on the flipside as the parent of a school aged child. We can't wait for you to get to know her a little better! She's one of our favorite people.
I’m excited to be blogging here on Second Story Window! A brief introduction: I’m Cassity, former 2nd grade teacher and current stay-at-home mom. I’ve known Heidi & Emily for 10 years! As a teacher I used and loved their products. I have 4 littles: Ella (5), Nolan (3), Clara (2), and Leo (4 mos). Things are slightly crazy but I wouldn’t have it any other way.
I always figured my children would be brilliant, entering kindergarten knowing how to read and write, etc. My oldest, Ella, has started kindergarten and, well, we’re not quite there.
When she was 3, I enrolled her in preschool because, with two younger siblings, I felt like she would enjoy interacting with children her own age. Ella went to a preschool at our local gymnastics gym and she loved it. She really excelled in gymnastics and I was just happy she was getting some solid social interaction. I told myself I didn’t care too much about the academic part of it as long as she was having fun and making friends. At the end of the year when she only knew a couple of letters I wasn’t too worried. I told myself she was only 3 and she still had another year of preschool.
When she was 4, I signed Ella up for the preschool offered at our neighborhood school. She loved her teacher and her classmates and really enjoyed her time at preschool. We worked on letters at home but I didn’t push her too much. Halfway through that year I began to panic a bit when she wasn’t progressing with her alphabet recognition. I began informally testing her to see what letters she knew - she only had consistent recognition with 9 letters. Some days she would correctly respond to more letters, but over a few days or the next week they were forgotten. By the end of the year I was discouraged when she only knew two-thirds of the alphabet - and only her upper-case.
Throughout most of the summer Ella played with alphabet apps on the iPad. I would sit next to her and try to help her but this usually ended in a battle with both of us becoming frustrated. I tried using the alphabet puzzle to quiz her. Again, we’d both end up unhappy. Finally I gave up. I felt like I needed to preserve our relationship and so for the rest of the summer, we didn’t touch letters. Sometimes she would play the apps on my phone but it was at her leisure.
About a month after her 5th birthday we went in for her kindergarten testing. Ella still only knew two-thirds of the upper-case alphabet (some of the letters she knew were different than what she knew at the beginning of summer) and she only knew a handful of the lower-case letters. Her teacher didn’t seem overly concerned. She noted that my Ella, with a July birthday, is young for her grade. She said their goal was to have letters and sounds mastered by Christmas. This has been our new target.
Some activities we’ve been doing at home:
Magnet Matching: We have a magnet wall in our mudroom (inspiration from Oh Happy Day), but this could easily be done on a fridge or metal door. We use a set of magnet letters (purchased here) that includes lower case and upper case. Start by putting the upper-case letters in alphabetical order leaving a space next to each letter. Mix up the lower-case letters. Sometimes we put them on the door next to the magnet wall – you could spread them out on the floor or leave them on the bottom of the magnet wall. Make sure they are all visible so your child can easily sort through the letters. The task is to match the lower-case letters to their upper-case counterpart. Encourage your child to start with the ones they know. Offer help as needed.
Apple Alphabet: This foam alphabet came from Staples. The task is to have your child put the puzzle “back together” by putting the letters in alphabetical order. The activity offers flexibility because each letter can fit in any spot. The child can start with the beginning of the alphabet, add some letters at the end and skip what they don’t know. When my daughter does this, she sings the alphabet to fill in the missing letters. When we first started she’d be left with a few letters she wasn’t certain of. We’d discuss what they could be depending on the spots open. Usually she could figure out the last few letters on her own.
After a little over a month of kindergarten we’re making serious progress. Ella consistently recognizes all but 2 of the upper-case letters and all but 4 of the lower-case letters. She also knows about a third of the letter-sounds. She LOVES kindergarten – her teacher is a huge part of this. Our big breakthrough at home has been homework. Once things are coming from her teacher rather than her mom the activities have seemed much more credible. We work on her homework each day and I throw in additional activities here and there. I’m confident Ella will reach our goal by Christmas--if not sooner!