Saturday, April 3, 2010

Learning By Osmosis

I'm not the most patient person when it comes to teaching my kids things like how to brush their teeth properly, tie a shoe or ride a bike.  I know it takes time to learn how to do these things the right way, but my patience level wanes with every  "but it's tooooo haaarrrdddd" or "I caaaaan't dooooo iiiitttttt."  I'm aware that my kids are capable of tying the shoe and riding the bike.  Convincing them of their capabilities is another matter altogether.

But, what I find fascinating is that when it comes to learning about schoolwork such as reading or counting or rhyming or adding, Christopher is learning by osmosis.  He seems to absorb the information we talk about at the dinner table with his older brother, Nicholas, regarding his homework and somehow, magically, Christopher understands it.  He begins to repeat it.  And he learns it with minimal instruction or prodding by mom and dad.  Wow.  Who knew it would be so easy the second time around?

Christopher likes to read.  He wants to learn how.  We pick up beginner books and he sounds out the letters to form the words.  We shop at the grocery store and he says to me, "Mom, this says Taco" as he points to a box of taco shells.  He draws pictures for his brother and signs it "To Nicholas rot (wrote) bi (by) Christopher."  He doesn't ask me how to spell a word, he just tries to sound it out on his own.  I marvel at Christopher's ability and secretly let out a huge sigh that he doesn't fight me at every turn like his brother who wouldn't read a book before he started Kindergarten if I lined it with $100 bills.  I tried to get Nicholas to sound out words and learn a few easily identifiable ones like "the" and "and." He balked.  No interest.  Dug in his heels.  Funny thing is, Nicholas is an above-average reader now so even though he appeared to not want to learn to read, he really didn't want to learn to read from me.  He likes to do things on his own terms.  His reading took off like a rocket in Kindergarten when he learned the ins and outs from his adorable teacher.  And, his 1st grade teacher tells me she can hardly keep up with his reading progression.  Obstinance duly noted.

Christopher on the other hand is learning much more at an earlier age.  He is learning how to read.  He is learning how to tell time.  He is learning how to count coins.  I'm not saying he correctly identifies coins all the time or can tell me when it's quarter past the hour, but the information is seeping into him one of Nicholas's homework lesson at a time.  Because Nicholas is learning all of this in school, Christopher gets the added benefit of learning it too - and that makes my job a whole lot easier.

I have also learned a few new things along the way.  Like, it doesn't matter if a word is spelled wrong it only matters that the correct sounds are present.  It doesn't matter if the words in a book are memorized, that is part of the learning-to-read process.  And, if an addition or subtraction result is wrong, a simple, "try that one again" is all that's needed.  Christopher gets another added benefit of a mommy who isn't as worried about precision as she was the first time around.  Sorry, Nicholas.  Is it any wonder that firstborns always try to be so perfect?

Now, if I can just get Christopher to ride his bike without training wheels...


Patti said...

Hi Kim, you have described my household to a T. Alex learned the hard way - through my frustrations, Katherine learned from Alex's homework and conversations. Katherine LOVES to read and her sole motivation was the fact that Alex could read before her. They are only 18 months apart but once Alex started reading all the time, Katherine worked at it every day and now reads more than him (quantity)...Amazing!

Kim Murray said...

It is amazing. And, oh so much easier!

Mommy on the Spot said...

I am hoping my 1 year old will learn by osmosis with all the talking and singing his almost 4 year old sister does!

And I had to dig deep with the whole patience thing when it came to teaching my daughter how to dress herself. . .

Kim Murray said...

He might start singing before really talking!

Cathy C. Hall said...

One day I was trying (for the umpteenth time) to get my first-born 5 year old to find letters in ads in the paper. As I pointed to one letter and asked , "What's this, Joey?" His barely 2 year old sis walked by, pulled her thumb from her mouth and said "A."

That still makes me smile...(Joey graduated college w/an English degree. But when he started kindergarten, he STILL couldn't tell you the difference between an A and a Z. Kids learn when they're ready, I guess.)

Oh, and thanks for the blog link love, Kim!

Kim Murray said...

Cathy, that has been my hardest lesson...that they will learn when they are ready. I'm practicing deep breathing techniques as I figure out this parenting thing!


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