It is now September and Jude is four and three quarters so all his friends from nursery are starting school. He attended nursery for three mornings a week for eighteen months but now we are starting home-school proper for him. Although he is generally not as forward as his sister was at this age, he does really enjoy drawing and is starting to incorporate a lot of writing into his artwork. I taught Jude the alphabet using home-made Thomas the Tank Engine flash cards because he is a HUGE Thomas fan and then we worked our way through and learnt how to form the letters. Like many four year olds he still reverses some letters and gets particularly confused with ‘b’s, ‘d’s and ‘p’s. As he has not been doing sentence writing as such, just learning the letters, he includes some capital letters in his words as well. I know Rudolph Steiner adherents teach only the capital letters to children, then lower case later, but I have mainly only taught lower case and Jude has just picked up some capitals from his reading.
The other day, Jude decided to make a book about Thomas Land. He worked through a pile of paper quickly sketching each character and then wrote the name of the character on the page. He took a long time over this task and was very focussed. Afterwards I helped him to staple the pages together and then he said it needed a front page. He told me what the title of the book was and sounded out each word. I helped him by reminding him what he was writing because he kept forgetting. I also tried to encourage finger spaces as he is not really using them yet. Apart from that he worked independently.
As well as being inspired by Thomas land (our last visit was back in June but it’s Jude’s most favourite place in all the world), Jude is also inspired by his favourite films. At the moment it’s Puss in Boots. Jude loves drawing Puss and also his accomplice, Kitty Soft Paws. Here is his picture of Kitty on the blackboard.
I love the fact that Jude is so enthusiastic about writing but I was feeling slightly unsure of how to help him improve. He is always reluctant if he thinks you are asking him to do work and I don’t want to destroy his confidence. As he is such a visual learner I decided we could try using some of the Letterland stories to revise his letter formation. Letterland has a little story with each letter which I thought would appeal to Jude’s artistic streak, for example: “When drawing Bouncing Ben, go straight down his ears and then round his face.” “When drawing Dippy Duck, stroke along her back first, go up her neck and back down again.” There is also a separate little story for each capital. I’ve always thought it was overly elaborate before but Jude is loving it. We are working through the alphabet and using Paint on the computer to draw the picture, then clone it and practise writing the letter over the top.
We haven’t bought anything as there is loads of Letterland stuff online. We just find the picture of the character and read the little story that tells you how to draw it. I still think it would be unnecessary to start off with Letterland as it is very involved, I used to think it distracted children having to learn all about Annie Apple when actually they would probably be alright just learning ‘a’- but it is helping Jude to consolidate forming his letter shapes without realising that’s what he’s doing. He already thinks writing is fun, we just need to keep it that way.