A couple months ago, I accidentally stumbled on an article through Pinterest on the things your child needs to be able to do before they enter Kindergarten. Normally, I avoid milestone charting like the plague. They just stress me out, and it’s like Chris says, “Have you ever seen a college student who isn’t potty trained and still drinks from a sippy cup?” But somehow I found this article and was instantly sucked in.
Most of the things Bean can do pretty well, like recognize numbers and letters, can follow one and two-step instructions, can sort and characterize by different features, and definitely has an eagerness to learn. There were some things on the list that he just isn’t ready to do yet, but that I have no doubt he will master within the next few years, such as cutting shapes out of construction paper, sequencing pictures in a logical order, and using shapes or letter-like objects to communicate ideas on paper. But there were a handful of things that he certainly had the ability to learn, and we just hadn’t thought to teach him yet.
One of those things was learning the names of all his immediate family members. He now knows me, Chris, and Gracie’s full names (and thinks it’s hysterical that Chris and I have actual, real names besides Mom and Dad), along with all his grandparents. And we also worked with him on learning both upper and lower case letters, which he is getting really good at recognizing. But the one that I think I am the most proud of is that he can now spell his name.
We tried writing his name and having him tell us the letters, and that worked, but he couldn’t ever repeat the letters without looking at them. Finally, I wised up and realized that Bean memorizes best when he’s singing a song. So, I turned his name into a little chant (don’t tell Chris, but it’s more like a cheer from my cheerleading days…and before you ask, I was a reject cheerleader on the reject cheerleading squad in 8th grade…not too many fond memories there). Within a day or two, Bean could spell his name using that chant. Over the next few weeks, I practiced the chant with him by asking him to spell his name at unpredictable times to see if he could truly recall the information, and he always could. Gradually, he dropped the chanting pattern and can now spell his name in a normal inflection, and can recognize it when it is written. Though, when I ask him to spell his name with a camera in his face, he hams it up pretty good…
So the lessons learned in this spelling experience:
A) If you’re trying to teach your child how to spell his or her name, try a chant or song because they are easier to remember for kids.
B) Milestone charts (while they aren’t the end all, be all of parenting) aren’t really the worst things in the world. When I stop freaking out about them, they can actually be a very useful tool to help guide my parenting.
C) Bean can cheer with the best of ’em.