Thursday, September 12, 2013

Wiggly Phonics

My middle child, an almost 6-year-old girl, cannot sit still. We've noticed this for a while, especially at church, where she cannot sit still even during the music parts. She is constantly moving at least some part of her body. It drives my husband crazy, since I am usually up at the piano playing for the service. She's also fallen out of her chair while sitting at her school desk more than once. The time she almost smacked her chin on the desk was when I decided the swivel chair might not be the best idea for her.

My youngest, a boy, has often fallen off his chair in the past, and has some typical little-boy wiggle problems, but my middle daughter is definitely worse. She is a prime example of what Cathy Duffy calls a "Wiggly Willy," although she does really love workbooks too.

Anyway, I've been trying to find ways to focus her attention more during phonics and reading lessons by incorporating more physical movement. We are using Christian Light Education's Learn to Read program, which we both really like, but which doesn't have enough hands-on or active learning for her. She loves the workbook format, and has always loved filling in worksheets, but some of the drill and flashcard time is a bit boring for her.

One frequent activity is identifying when the first sound in a word is a particular letter. The book suggests having the child raise their hand whenever the word starts with the letter we're working on. Instead, I have her sit on the floor and jump up whenever the word begins with our letter. She loves doing that, though I have to make sure she has plenty of room.

Another activity is identifying the vowel sound in a word. Instead of just telling me, I give her flashcards for the vowels, and she has to raise the right card. She raises the cards quite exuberantly at times, jumping out of her seat as she does so!

I sometimes have her write on our lovely 2' x 3' white board I recently got, instead of on paper. That provides a little more physical activity, and a change of position.

She has also, all on her own, started acting out the flash card words as she shouts out the word. These are words like "dig" and "cup" (she takes a sip) and "wag" and "lap" (she pats her lap) and "hop" (her new favorite). There are phrase cards too, which provide even more fodder for her imagination. The mental activity of trying to figure out a motion for each one is useful too, since the flash cards are generally very easy for her. It exercises her ever-active brain which is always flitting to dozens of different thoughts with every word I say. I sometimes wonder how her brain works, she is so often chasing rabbit trails and coming up with amazing connections to everything imaginable. Her brain cannot keep still any more than her body, I do believe.

Whatever works. And keeps her happy. And it is definitely working. She is learning to read quite well, and can read pretty detailed, lengthy stories now. Along with every single road sign we pass as we drive....