Although our little Kate (age 6) seems to love all things relating to Math and numbers, she's run into a number of stumbling blocks in the letters and reading department. First thing I noticed was that she got confused when I tried to introduce more than one sound when working on our phonogram cards with her (even though she was eager to start learning to read... but her enthusiasm started to sink). Realizing that she was overwhelmed by the multiple sounds (and, to my consternation, often choosing the most obscure sound as the "primary" sound - for example, "s" was always "zzzzz" for some reason), I switched (sometime before Christmas) to just the simplest sound to start with and went back to the simple Red Letter Alphabet Book for the practice. And waited. We worked on it here and there, but I could see that pushing her was not the answer as she flew through her math and preferred to ignore the rest.
I have to admit to a certain amount of battling myself in my own head about how much I should do with her and whether there was anything to be concerned about. It's just so easy to worry. The busy-ness of our lives however, helped the more relaxed approach win, especially since she was eager to learn in other areas.
Yesterday, I was at Barnes and Noble and, inspired by a friend's letter and word magnets on her metal door to the garage, picked up a magnetic poetry set with extra big letters for beginning readers. I thought the fun of playing with it on the fridge (our garage door, sadly, is made of wood) might draw her into spending more time with her letters.
Little did I know how quickly it would work. She played with the words a bit today and I helped her read just a few this morning. She talked about some of them with her siblings (the kitchen, afterall, has its advantages as it has constant traffic going in and out). Late tonight (when she... technically... should have been in bed) she just started diving in for some reason. Soon she was sitting on my lap at the counter with pencil and paper, eagerly having me write out simple words that rhymed with each other (she also enjoyed drawing a line under each one after she read it). The first one from each set was a bit tough, but she finally got the idea of sounding it out (even though she frequently got some of the sounds mixed up - which simply led to peals of laughter from both of us) and read about 20 words with great delight. She was so eager that I showed her how to add an e to the end of word to make the vowel say its name. That to her was pure magic.
The funny picture that will be in my head for a long time is of Frank and Kate hanging all over me while John read to the older four upstairs. For awhile, Kate was perched on my lap working on reading, while Frank stood on the chair behind me with his hands wrapped around in front of my face, asking me how many fingers were this many and how many fingers were that many. Ah, homeschooling.