Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Joey Starts Phonics

In October, after the dust settled some following Kaelie's birth in May, I realized that Joey knew all his basic letter sounds. How? Because he was singing his phonics song to me! Yes! He was also singing his periodic tables song, additional Signing Time songs and picking up lines from random songs on the radio while listening to them for the first time. Great! But, oh no! I wasn't prepared for the next steps!  As his guide, I should be certain that he has what he needs ahead of time so that he can continue to develop at his true pace, but he beat me this time.

So, what was next? Phonics, sight words? I didn't know enough to make an educated decision, nor did I have prior experience  aside from recalling how I learned to read. As typical, I started researching and came to the conclusion that we would do a combination of phonics and sight words, with the ability to speed read with comprehension as the goal.

Well, Joey knew the basic sounds for a to z, thanks to the genkijapan.net video I added to his YouTube playlist way back when.  And well before Kaelie was born he knew the flash card sight words from his YBCR (Your Baby Can Read) sets that he started when he was 5 months old. But by the time I realized what was happening and started trying to put a plan together, Joey was already 27 months old, and I was barely adjusted to a routine with Joey and Kaelie to give her the same amount of attention as Joey had received.  Of course guilt set in, but necessity to not fall further behind from what his mind was craving and risk him losing interest compelled me to push forward. Kaelie was now 6 months old and because of our adult lives getting in the way, I was not close to having things back in order for the kids' routine. To make matters more difficult, Joey started showing signs that he was a bit over the YBCR videos, understandably so - it's been two years - but without an extra set of hands, now I had to find a separate time for Kaelie to do her YBCR, and Joey was hit or miss with nap time, so most days I wasn't even getting the oh-so-needed break. That, plus interrupted nights nursing, all blend for a pretty stressed and crazy momma who was starting to have doubts and question everything.  Following J's suggestion, I escaped to my mother's in November to try and regroup while she and my grandmother helped long enough for me to sneak in some work calls and down time. Upon reflection and rest, the choice was clear: I would stop trying to work and focus my energy on the kids. 

A weight was lifted and I had focus and desire. Inspiration set in again and things have been coming more
and more into focus ever since. We were blessed to have Lulu help us with Joey when he was 7 months old until he was 20 months old, but now instead of 1 child to 2 adults, the tables had turned on me, leaving this 1 adult with 2 beautifully, hungry and deserving minds. God blessed me with the challenge, and I will admit, I was periodically fighting thoughts and feelings of depression until I accepted the challenge as my priority and purpose. The entrepreneurial spirit woven into my fabric has spurred me onto a new business path, the gifted path, but in truth, it was a journey that I started on many years before college and had put aside and forgotten until my pregnancy with Joey forced me back to it.  Real estate can wait, my baby's cannot.

So, with renewed faith I removed the guilt, resentment and frustration that was starting to creep in,  and rekindled my joy, gratitude, and confidence.  I started paying happier attention to the kids and falling in love with them again, curious once more to experience what new lessons we would learn from each other as the mystery of who they will become slowly unveils itself to me. To follow the path of how new human life starts, grows, is nourished and develops right before you is truly amazing. To be a part of that process and having a positive impact is truly a blessing. To know that part or your purpose is being carried out, making you a part of something much bigger, iw truly rewarding. And to find the means to participate in all of the above with your own child is just short of a miracle in today's world. Our children are miracles, and when we see them as such, and realize that we are both their followers and guides, helping them to unlock the miracles buried as secrets within them, then they will help us unlock the same within us.
So, back to Joey and reading. Instead of being too tired for him or too busy for him, I started listening. And I heard him winging his phonics. I started using moments of interest with him to stimulation his letter sound connection. For example, when Mr Independent wanted to turn the light on or off, I'd ask him to tell me the first letter and he would correctly answer. After two days of this, then I started asking for the last letter too. I made sure to not throw curve balls, like words that end in silent E, but I could ask him what that word started with. I played, and still play, extra games to emphasize position words like first, second, third, fourth, last, left, right, front, back, forward, backwards, upside-down, etc.  He surprised me about three weeks ago by coming up with all the letters in mango, one of how favorite fruits. Speaking of which, lately he's been telling me that he has favorite things! Favorite color: first it was purple, then it changed to red. Favorite other things too, but it's late and I'm drawing a blank.

This morning he insisted that he needed to draw and asked for paper - he found the pens on his own. After drawing letters, he proceeded to sound them out. This is very exciting for me, since I'm trying to teach him hoe to read phonetically too. We have started spelling quite a bit too. Like, while he was riding his bike in the neighborhood, I took the time to point out that the stop sign was a red octagon. I aside him to tell me the letters, which he did, and then I made up a little ditty: s.t.o.p spells stop, g.o. spells go, g.o. spells go. I explained the importance of looking left and right, and was consistent about mentioning at every opportunity until he started saying it before me. Now, he reminds me to look both ways wo that I don't get hurt. He tells me everywhere he sees the word stop, whether in the sign or not. He counted the sides of a hexagon the other day, realizing that it was not a pentagon. He is so neat!

And he is cool and considerate too. :)  we visited family today and he was sure to tell everyone good morning. He rough-housed with his older cousins, and when he greets strangers, he asks them their name, tells them his, shakes their hand and says 'nice to meet you'd and if he sees they want to pound fists, he'll pound, sometimes blowing it up and sometimes letting it fizzle. The kid cracks me up!  He's so rough and tumble lately, but he still gives us, especially Kaelie, drive-by kisses, hugs and I love you's, sometimes in ASL. I feel that he would have been trapped inside his body if I hadn't supported his innate ability to communicate early and am so grateful to get to know him like this.

Kaelie isn't left behind either. She is quite the vocal one! I didn't realize until recently all she was trying to do months ago, but now that I know, I am even more excited to be on this path with both of them.

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