My Feisty, 4, is a wonderful, bubbly, intelligent little girl. She is not, however, an academic-minded person like her big sister, Delightful. She is also not ready for full-time school.
In the summer of 2013, the summer before Feisty would have started K4 if she was a public schooler, Feisty eagerly asked me to do “school” with her every day. I took a four-drawer container we owned and organized a simple 4-day school week for her. I did this by putting at least one thing from each of these 4 categories into each drawer:
- Literature (stories)
- Letters OR Numbers
- Motor Skills and Fun
We worked on one drawer a day and had a lot of fun. Everything seemed set for Feisty to start K4 come September. If we were public schoolers, however, there is no way she could have done so. Why is that, you ask? The answer is that Feisty is a late bloomer.
By this, I mean that Feisty is not yet mature enough for full-time school. She hasn’t yet fully met the typical milestones for kindergarten readiness such as being able to:
- Be fully toilet trained without having accidents
- Zip a jacket
- Put toys away when asked
- Share and take turns
- Copy a square
- Show an interest in school
- Listen attentively to a book being read aloud for at least 15-20 minutes
- Follow multi-step directions
- Care for personal needs independently
- Play cooperatively with other children, taking turns and sharing toys as necessary
- Identify rhyming words
(taken from SSGMR and What Your Preschooler Needs to Know by Hirsch)
Feisty is very young in many ways. She loves to carry her blankie around with her, is prone to temper tantrums, and has to be in the right mood to want to do “school.” She simply is not ready for the rigors of a full-time educational program, and I am not willing to impose one on her. In any case, Feisty made school impossible for us to do in September 2013.
When September started, I looked forward to teaching Feisty some new skills. She, however, had other plans. She suddenly started taking naps again every day and went through a growth spurt. She was too tired to want to do school and too interested in playing with her toys to care much about it. School was put on hold for a while.
In November 2013, Feisty indicated that she wanted to do some more school again. I tried to see what she remembered from the summer but that was like pulling teeth. Feisty is one of those children who answers, “I don’t know” or something similar if you ask her a direct question. I had to trick her into showing me what she knew and I found just the right resource to help me do so: Easy-Peasy All-in-One Homeschool. I listened as Feisty sang along to all of the videos in the Getting Ready 1 section and was pleased to discover that she knew all her letters, sounds, colors, shapes, etc. She finished Getting Ready 1 in 2 weeks, minus the cut and paste activities that did not interest her after the first few. At that point, Feisty was ready for phonics instruction.
Since that time, Feisty has been working through Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons, Adventures in Phonics A, and other phonics resources. We are not moving at as fast a pace as I did with Delightful, but Feisty is making excellent progress nonetheless. She has learned how to print all of her letters (cursive first was a no-go with her), and we are working on learning all of the numbers up to 100. Slow and steady wins the race.
My unofficial daily plan for Feisty, which we do not actually do completely every day, is something like this:
- Include Feisty in family worship
- Do something with numbers, counting, etc.
- Do something with phonics, reading, etc.
- Read a story together
- Do any other activity Feisty is interested in such as physed from Slow and Steady, Get Me Ready or Patty Shukla, art appreciation from All Things Bright and Beautiful, a craft from Jumbo Book of Preschool Activities, etc.
So far so good. We are priming the pump, so to speak. It will be interesting to see how much Feisty’s educational program ends up differing from Delightful’s in the long run. At the age of 4, though, there is time to slow down, enjoy life, play a lot, and use those teachable moments when they come. I am glad my garden contains many different types of flowers, and I look forward to seeing what kind of flower Feisty blossoms into.