Friday, December 4, 2009

Apples and oranges

I was filling out forms for Jack's meeting with Deborah, and had to write down his milestone stuff. When did he...have a concept of numbers, know his alphabet, etc etc? And since I observe my children with a scientists' note-taking, I was able to pull up my records. :) I had his drawings that were dated and labeled, when he did some new "trick"...like a major leap in the level of detail, etc. It was fun going over things and bringing back the memories of the charming excitement of seeing those jumps in self.

My children will feel very over-documented, but they can never claim I didn't care about their minutiae. :)

I was thinking about how I'll be filling out this same form for Andrew in 2 years, and how he's currently going through the steps I have to document.

How different their forms look in several ways, and I love that. I've never understood parents talking about how certain paths are better than others...if the child is being true to their own wiring, talents, and interests. But what was remarkable to me is that they had the same leap in their "category" at the same age.

Jack seemed to be pre-wired with a love for letters and phonics. Just by answering his questions when asked, he learned how to read. I showed him The Letter Factory movie when he was 28 months old, because he loved frogs. And after watching in a couple of times, I almost fainted when he knew all his phonics when asked. He was fascinated to no end by letters, and still loves the mechanics of letter sounds even more than the content of the story. He'll sound out words he's seen 100 times. Interestingly, his Russian teacher says his pronunciation of the new sounds is remarkable...so I sense there's an inherent gift for phonics/letters that might translate into languages.

I sang the alphabet song to all my kids as their lullaby, and Andrew used it to count things at around 18 months to 2 years. He'd dole out fake dollars to us saying "A...B...C...D..." I'd keep thinking I should teach him how to "real count," because he seemed so pre-wired with a numeric sense. Then I almost fainted on the day he spontaneously counted up to 30. I'm pretty sure he's up to 100 at this point, but I'm not sure. He's in his own little world with the numbers, especially since I'm not teaching math lessons. I should ask him.

It's a good thing we don't do formal teaching with our kids, or he'd drive me nuts. He cares only about letters as symbols for people he loves. "A" is Andrew, "M" and "W" are both for Mommy, "S" is for Simone...

If you ask this kid what a letter says, just casually, he will tell you how many of the letter is on that page. "What does 'A' say?" And even though he knows it, he will tell you that there are FOUR "As" on the page...in an excited voice like he just discovered a chocolate stash.

Funny, isn't it?

At the parallel ages, Jack had a basic number sense the same way Andrew has the phonics sense. Knows them because they memorize well, but didn't care about them. Then at 4, Jack decided to count up to 1000, asked about negative numbers, and would surprise us by doing addition in his head.

He learned how to tell time so he could watch Dinosaur Train and not miss it. He was just over 5, and knew that the show came on at 2:30. He asked me to show him on the analog clock how to do time, so I gave him a 15 minute tutorial. I said the first hand, you just say the number. The second hand is a multiplication problem, using 5s. He looked up at the clock and said, "So it's 1:30 right now?" I thought it was a fluke, but then he's been telling time ever since.

Numbers needed to have a function for Jack to care, and I assume that it will be the same for Andrew and letters. How those paths fast forward into their future, I can't wait to see.

As they grow, interests and learning won't be so neatly divided into "letters" and "numbers," but I suspect there will be trends that point back to their younger selves. Steve loves numbers and memorizes them well...I memorize words and entire phrases well, but struggle with remembering number-based things, like phone numbers. Our actual interest areas overlap a lot, but the perspective is different.

I can't wait to watch their minds and perspectives form, and what they all bring to the table. And I'll absolutely love having 3 completely different forms to file, with their completely different make-ups.

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