Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Environmental Reader

When the Lone Star Girl was in kindergarten, her teacher liked to talk a lot about "environmental reading".  She meant stuff like recognizing the logo of certain golden-arched colonialist establishments and things of that nature when out and about.  She was disturbed that the Montessori-preschooled LSG's immediate label for a letter was its sound rather than it's name (but she can read, I'd say).  I was a little underwhelmed by the teacher's enthusiasm for "environmental reading" as the Lone Star Girl entered kindergarten reading at around second-grade level and left kindergarten reading at "right where she should be for the end of kindergarten".  I mean, that's a fine place to be at the end of kindergarten, of course - right where you should be - but not if you went backwards to get there.  Fortunately, by the end of first grade, she had discovered those saccharine Magic Treehouse books and she was hooked on reading again.

I am seeing a whole different kind of "environmental reading" with the Lone Star Baby and I love this kind.  Suddenly, over the past few weeks, she has started reading everything she sees around her - signs, labels, every piece of writing in her path.  She read "a world of opportunity" on a sign at the credit union the other day.  She took the (Spanish!) storybook her teacher was reading and finished reading it for the class on another day last week when her teacher had to take care of something.  I see her little finger tracing words and hear her voice sounding them out everywhere we are.  It's so exciting!


Andrea said...

Wow...that teacher reminds me of the one in To Kill a Mockingbird...yikes! It is so fun and exciting to watch those little minds blossom and grow, isn't it?

Saints and Spinners said...

Cool! Lucia is doing the same thing, too. She loves OPEN signs. "A world of opportunity" is pretty impressive (not that it's about impressing).

Lone Star Ma said...

She was really an okay teacher- she mostly just had a strong philosophical bent that K shouldn't be too academic, a view with which I strongly agree in the main. There is academic and there is academic, though, and the Montessori method does academic in a very developmentally appropriate way. Kids, also, come in all kinds, and mine was a little past the academics they were doing - she kept getting in trouble for doing everyone else's math sheets for them. That K had all the other kinds of enrichment you would hope for, though (except Spanish) and the asst. in the room was amazing. She read great literature to the kids and did amazing project-based units with them and science experiments and they had deep discussions. It was really a great school, just not for early readers and math aficionados so much.

Does Lucia's school want them reading at her age yet? I have heard about the whole crossing the midline thing, and that really hardcore Waldorf adherents want to wait until kids are like 11. I figure that Waldorf schools are probably just as mixed in what they adhere to as Montessori schools are, though, right? The AMS has always been pro-free art for the most part, which AMI Montessori schools discourage, etc.

Saints and Spinners said...

Eleven? Really? That seems a little late. With the school Lucia attends, the kindergarten is non-academic, and first grade is the beginning of easing children into the academic. The curriculum for first grade is folktales based, and children start out learning their letters by way of stories.

Lucia is quite interested in reading, though, and so she's learning through context and by asking us to spell words as she composes her books. Oddly enough, she is learning to read musical notes before learning to read in a formal context. She's already started to make up stories about "Twenty four invisible eighth notes" (a phrase that has her in an uproar of laughter).

Lone Star Ma said...

That is so cool.