Friday, January 14, 2011
Everett, Reading, and Cheerios
I had a slow start to the day today. I was puttering around, cleaning the bathrooms, and making the bed. When I first heard Tegan and Everett fighting, I thought they'd work it out, but it quickly escalated.
Everett: Tegan, STOP!
Tegan: Stop grabbing me!!
At that point, I intervened. I was finishing up in my bedroom, so I called Everett and asked him to come talk to me. I could tell he was on the verge of tears when he called back, "I can't! She'll wreck my cheerios!"
I went out to investigate, thinking he was eating breakfast. Instead I found him on a chair in the living room, trying desperately to defend the integrity of his name, carefully constructed in Cheerios, from Tegan, who wanted nothing more than to scatter them all over the floor. I picked up Tegan (while trying to corral the dog - also pretty bent on destroying, ie: eating -his creation), asked him if he wanted to take a picture of it, and went off to get my phone when he answered in the affirmative.
I snapped the picture and made sure he was satisfied with it. After I got his go-ahead, I let the girl and dog do their thing, and everyone was happy once again.
Everett is 6 1/2 at the time of this writing, and he will tell you that he's not reading yet. He is reading though, as recognizing letters is reading. Putting letters together into a word that has meaning to you is reading. He spells his name (with pen and paper too, not just Cheerios), he picks simple words and names out of signs, he's able to find all his shows on the DirecTv queue. He's playing with, and appreciating, and learning about letters and words, and I love watching it.
Just like his brothers before him, he is taking his own unique path to learning how to read and write. He has his own time table, his own method, and his own motivation. And because he's not having to perform according to anyone's specifications but his own, he is loving every minute of it. No one instructed him to make his name out of cereal. He did it because he had a big box of Cheerios and he thought it'd be a fun thing to do. He did it because he's a kid. He did it because that's what kids do.
One of the most basic and early questions that people have about unschooling (second only to those about the "S" word) is "But how will he learn to read??"
And the answer is no more complicated than this:
He'll learn to read like he learned to walk. He'll learn to read because the people around him read... beside him, and TO him. He'll learn to read because we live in an environment surrounded with the written word. He'll learn to read because we are there to involve him in our own experiences, to show him when he's curious, and to answer his questions when he asks them.
Learning to read is in board games. On TV. On street signs. It's on cereal boxes, and letter magnets, and computer programs. It's in sidewalk chalk and hopscotch games. It's on the emblem on Daddy's t-shirt, and on the bumper sticker in front of us on the highway. Learning to read is everywhere.
Even, sometimes, in Cheerios.