Tuesday, July 8, 2008

The Spelling Boy

Apparently, I have raised myself a little nerd. No shock there since his parents are both total geeks (nose-in-book, computer dork, mechanically inclined, analyst genes are all the rage in our house). But seriously, I have done some research (like I always do) and I cannot seem to find any articles about four year olds who want to spend their free time spelling. I'm pretty much of the "unschool" belief system and have decided to let my children lead the way in their own education. This means that we don't sit down for letter lessons, etc. When we do "lessons" around here, it's a color sheet and a few library books, songs, dramatic play activities all related to some theme that He-Man usually picks out himself (he shows interest in caterpillars, let's learn about caterpillars). When it comes to numbers, letters, and reading, I'm not structuring lessons. Ironically, this whole "child-led learning" seems to be pointing its finger and laughing at me. Instead of playing catch or chase or pretending to be a pirate or whatever it is that normal little boys do, mine is spelling. The child cannot hold a writing utensil correctly to save his life (he gets that from me. I'm 30 years old and you would cringe if you had to watch me write a paragraph). So, he's not spelling on paper. He's using his blocks to spell. I'll be cooking dinner, fully expecting him to be engaged in something mindless like learning to say "I hate you" from Squidward, and the next thing I know, he's spelled Wet with the blocks. "Come see what I've spelled, Mama". Okay then. I can't help but wonder if I should somehow nurture this desire to spell. Like should I buy him a phonics kit? Should I start doing flash cards? Because honestly, I'm at a loss. I don't really know whether or not he's ahead of the game or if all four year olds take up spelling as a hobby. Advice and suggestions are welcome!


  1. I also have a 4 year old, and he is into spelling too! It mostly started with him asking me in the car how to spell this or that, but he now likes to play with the refrigerator magnets, and make up words. I'm not sure if it's just the "geek" in him, or just that natural curiosity when it's about time to learn to read and write.

    I at first tried pushing the spelling and letter sounds on him, but he'd tell me that it "hurt his brain"....so I let go, and he just does his own thing. Good Luck, and Happy Spelling!!!

  2. yeah, i'd keep going with the flow and letting him learn it on his own. in my personal opinion, it's much wiser to continue what you're apparently doing by just being the encouraging, positive mom who nurtures him period, in everything, and lets him explore various subjects on his own. that way you don't cross that pencil thin line of pushing it on him, and he gets to keep LEARNING TO SPELL (which is nothing short of amazing) as his hobby or passion. but that's just my two cents.

    congrats on raising the next generation of geek. i know you will, but alls i can think is: be proud, mama, of your word-lovin' boy. :)

  3. yay!! thanks mamas! I'm so thankful to have such positive feedback in my life. I think that just letting him do as he pleases is the best option too. Maybe I'll just kick the whole "lesson" thing up a notch once in a while. At any rate, I'm so excited to see my child grow. Four is my favorite age but then again, I've never worked with five year olds! Can't believe that is just around the corner.

  4. He reminds me of Jack!

    When I was a teacher, I became so against structured lessons, worksheets, kids who are pushed to learn to read early, etc.

    And then Jack was reading by age 3 and knew how to locate most countries by the time he was two.

    He's less like that now and mostly wants to play.

    We're unschooling for the most part, but do a LITTLE bit of structured stuff. I'd say a total of 20-30 minutes a day. Actually, probably less than that. We do a worksheet or two, maybe a math lesson with toys, and then a creative writing thing.

    If he ends up doing that kind of stuff on his own, we usually skip the structured stuff.

    I think it's awesome that you're unschooling!!!! I hardly know any unschoolers so it will be nice to have someone to talk to.


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