A little bit ahead of the pack

As it turns out, Tony is well-advanced over most of the other kids in his kindergarten class — possibly all of them, though I’m not exactly running the little tykes through a skill appraisal just to see where my own son ranks. I expected him to excel at reading, and in fact he’s doing extremely well. Where I’ve seen some of his classmates struggle to sound out a few letters in series, Tony now reads the stories in his Highlights magazines on his own, as well as short books. Partially this is because we nudge him to do so — on our weekly trips to the library, at least one book he selects has to be one he will read to me (Peanuts books have been a hit, recently). But he’s also motivated; my wife wandered out of our bedroom one morning to find him perusing the the phonics book I used to teach him to read. It was open on his lap.

“What are you doing?” she asked.

“I’m looking over my reading lessons so I don’t forget them.”

Our five-year-old is voluntarily reviewing his lessons? Cool.

Despite my relative innumeracy, Tony is also advanced in math, though not so dramatically so as in reading. I’ve been running him through those math game books you can pick up at book stores, and he’s acquired a good, basic understanding of addition and subtraction. I’ll formalize the lessons though — I just ordered a math home study kit that will, I hope, prove as successful as the phonics program.

Of course, this means that I’m really sending him to kindergarten so he can socialize and so I have time to work out. There’s value in that, too.


  • Matt C. says:

    What phonics book did you use?

    Also, I gave a friend our old Nintendo Game Cube and he purchased the game Animal Crossing for his daughter a year or so ago. She is now in first grade and he credits the game with her ability to read well. Now, he is a writer and a former ESOL teacher, so I am sure that’s not the only reason. He would make her read what she was seeing on the screen. If you have a Wii you can also play the game cube games on that system if you are looking for something else to include.

  • J.D. Tuccille says:

    I used “Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons,” which breaks the DISTAR phonics system down into easily digested units. You can find the book, and reviews, at Amazon (http://www.amazon.com/Teach-Your-Child-Read-Lessons/dp/0671631985). For what it’s worth, the book comes with my recommendation.

    I’ve heard some good things about video-based teaching methods, but we’ve kept Tony away from video games so far — largely because I’ve seen a few kids his age with their creativity already knocked out of them by the things. That said, I don’t doubt that the approach works for many families.

  • Matt C. says:

    FWIW—The animal crossing is basically a kids version of Sims, only you actually have to make business like decisions. Do you sell apples or oranges? Should you buy something else from another town and sell it locally, etc. He was able to teach her how important work and real life decision can make her better off.

    Thanks for the tip on the phonics book. I will keep this in mind for the future.

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