We're playing with learning to read, but Rowan's not all that interested. He's far more fascinated with learning to write. So we're doing a lot of that. I'm getting used to spelling out my entire grocery list, notes to Jason, pretty much anything I need written down. He's not interested in worksheets or any other formal writing practice; he wants to freeform.
I was a very "classical" learner, and I'm also a reader, while I'm figuring out that Rowan, like his father, is a visual/spatial learner. Knowing this, I don't freak out too much about the fact that Rowan can't read yet (except for words he wants to know, like "SpiderMan" and "YouTube"). I see that he wants to make sure that a letter is the same whether it's written in crayon or in pencil, in chalk or in finger paint, and so we play around with that. He's very interested in the media, more so than the message, and the shapes of the letters seem far more relevant to him than the meaning they're to represent. He's approaching the entire reading/writing learning process in a different way than I did, and it's fascinating to observe.
I spend a lot of time gagging my inner critic. For schoolish me, reading is an end in itself, and all of the side exploration is time wasting. It takes me a lot of deep breaths to not get frustrated, and to truly recognize that the other stuff he's figuring out along the way is every bit as valuable as the actual "reading". I'm a professional editor, but had never figured out that spinning from E to M to 3 to W was fun if you draw the shapes correctly and pivot them on the center point.
The point is to realize that there are many, many fascinating things in this world, and rushing off to the same end result everyone else points to may end up with you missing some of the neatest detours available.
So a few days ago, Rowan decided he wanted to write Kestrel's name out. Carefully aligned in the center of the piece of green construction paper, with his red pen, he wrote out "K... E..."... and a backwards S. Jason pointed out, "Hey, Rowan, you've written the 'S' backwards" and left it at that. (And I'm not even going go into my tirade about how "backwards" is factual information, but most adults in that situation select instead the term "wrong", which comes preloaded with judgment.)
Rowan stared intensely at the page for about a minute. Smiled. Rotated the page, and then drew T...R...E...L... backwards too. So when he was done, Kestrel's whole name was there, in block capitals, in mirror writing.
"Egads!" I thought to myself, "I wonder if that's how Da Vinci got started on mirror writing!"
Quite independently of how excited Jason and I were about him figuring it out, Rowan was very pleased with himself. He explained to me that the shapes worked out, and that was that. I'm still not quite sure what he meant or why the shapes were more pleasing to his eye in mirror-reversal than they were forwards. And in the week or so since, he's kept flipping his words around and playing with the shapes.
And I, who because of my own mental process would accidentally and needlessly limit his in the quest to "teach to read and write", am keeping my mouth firmly shut, and simply enjoying the adventure my learning style never allowed me to take.
Laureen is a writer, a professional editor, a scuba instructor, a beginning sailor, a traveler, and an obsessive researcher who's chiefly focused on, and delighted with, her husband Jason and her sons Rowan and Kestrel. She's a lifelong Californian, which lends a very distinctive spin to both her ideas and her politics, and she's discovered, in her peregrinations, that the world is far smaller yet far more fascinating than anyone gives it credit for being. She holds forth her opinions on that in her blog, The ElementalMom.