Monday, March 27, 2006

The Road to St. Louis Continues

The day approaches. In July I will likely be heading to St. Louis, Missouri to attend Covenant Theological Seminary. I say 'likely' because I'm not entirely certain I'll be able to pay for housing and tuition for the summer Greek course I want to take. My family and I are living with relatives right now so we can save money, but I can't make guarantees. The good news is that my financial aid award came in the mail today. I haven't actually seen the letter from CTS, but my wife told me about it over the phone. The bad news is, I'm fairly certain that I won't be getting that money until the fall semester begins. That means it will be of no use during the summer. We're praying that we will be able to find the money so we can maintain our current plan. We're also concerned that the aid we are getting will not be enough, which brings up the possibility of an unsubsidized Stafford loan. We don't want to do that for obvious reasons.

I am confident, though, that God will provide.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Toward Literacy: Helping a 3 Year Old Recognize Letters

A few weeks ago I made my first post chronicling my oldest son's journey toward literacy. We're still working on recognizing the letters of the alphabet. We've made some progress over the last couple of weeks, with many letters moving up into other categories. If you recall, I categorized all the letters according to my son's level of recognition. There was "Always Recognizes" (AR), "Often Recognizes" (OR), "Rarely Recognizes" (RR), and "Never Recognizes" (NR). After last night I am able to recategorize many of the letters.

Always Recognizes

A, B, H, K, L, O, P, Q, R, S, T, X

Often Recognizes

F, G, J, M, N

Rarely Recognizes

C, D, E, I, U, V, W, Y, Z

Never Recognizes


As you can see, no letters remain in the NR category. Last night he remembered 'W'for the first time. That was a big event, and was pleased that 'K' had moved from 'NR' to 'AR'. We had worked hard on that one.

That was the good news. The bad news is today I realized that I haven't been showing him lowercase letters. I was reading The Well-Trained Mind today and it hit me like a lightning bolt. I felt like a doofus, but then I also realized that we don't have anything that actually has lower case letters except a dry erase board that it too advanced for him. My wife and I are trying to decide if we want to buy a banner with upper and lowercase letters or if we'll make one on our own. Hopefully by the time his 4th birthday rolls around we'll have both cases down.

Monday, March 20, 2006

More Alphabet News

I know everyone is itching to hear about my oldest son's progress in learning to recognize his letters. Let's take a look, shall we? As you can see in my previous post on the topic, I divided his knowledge into four categories:

Always Recognizes (AR)
Often Recognizes (OR)
Rarely Recognizes (RR)
Never Recognizes (NR)

Since March 3 most of the letters have moved out of NR. Some of them, in fact have made it all the way up to AR. Some letters, however, have moved down on the list a bit. Here is how it currently stands:

Always Recognizes

A, B, H, K, L, O, P, Q, R, S, T, X

Often Recognizes

F, G, M, N, J

Rarely Recognizes

C, D, E, I, U, V, Y, Z

Never Recognizes


He still struggles with 'W', wanting to turn it upside down and make it an 'M'. I also want to add about all of the letters in the 'RR' category. Many of those he will not recognize at first, but with some verbal prompting like making the first sound of the letter name he is able to get it.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Congratulate Me! I'm a Daaaangerous Man!

I haven't mentioned it here before, but I am currently taking Tae Kwon Do courses at church (yes, you read right). I've always wanted to try some form of martial arts, so when we began offering a free Tae Kwon Do course as a ministry I jumped at the chance. Grand Master Chuck Martin has sponsored our church's group through the World Christan Taekwondo Federation, so we are an officially sanctioned school. It has been difficult, but rewarding. I'm fitter than I've been in a long time, my muscles are hardening, and I've even lost a bit of that fat that so stubbornly clings to my waistline.

Now that I've established some background I'll get on to the real topic of this post. Two weeks ago I passed the test for my yellow belt. The test was pretty easy, so my sense of accomplishment is small, but it's progress. It's funny because I used to look at people with belts beyond white as real 'martial artists', but now that I'm on the other side of the divide I know that I'm much too tenative to be any good in a fight. The main difference is that if I somehow did the right move at the right time it would hurt my opponent a lot more.

Friday, March 03, 2006

Teaching a 3 Year Old the Alphabet

As my *ahem* regular readers already know, my wife and I are homeschooling our children. The first thing I want to do is to get my oldest son reading. He's only three so I am trying to find a balance between being lax and being heavy-handed. I don't want to turn him off to reading, but I don't want to let him think it is unimportant. He loves books, and will sometimes "read" by himself. It's a pleasure to hear him tell a story he's familiar as he looks at the pages, or simply describe the pictures on the pages.

My main task at this point is making sure he can correctly identify all of his letters. He can recite the alphabet, but his recognition of the letters is spotty. I want this to be the initial post chronicling my Max's journey to literacy.

As far as I can tell, Max has four categories or levels of recognition for his letters. As common sense would have it, they are 1) Always Recognizes, 2) Often Recognizes, 3) Rarely Recognizes, and 4) Never Recognizes. Just to get them in order in my own head, I am going to categorize the letters.

Always Recognizes

A, B, H, L, O, P, Q, R, S, T

Often Recognizes

G, M, N

Rarely Recognizes

D, E, I, U, X,

Never Recognizes

C, F, J, K, V, W, Y, Z

There doesn't seem to be much rhyme or reason to which letters he knows. Sometimes his mood plays a factor in which letters he "knows." If he was always cooperative I think at least 'G' and 'M' would be in the 'Always Recognizes' category.

Three of the letters in 'Never Recognizes' are there because Max confuses them with other letters. He always calls 'K' 'R', he calls 'V' 'A', and confuses 'W' with 'M'. He thinks it's upside down. The other five we haven't worked on very much.

I must admit my approach has been scattershot. At first I was too pushy, so we both ended up frustrated. My more recent approach has been to play with magnetic letters we have, periodically asking him to name certain letters. When we clean up, I'll purposely drop letters he is less familiar with and say, "Oh Max, could you pick up that 'F' for daddy?" or something of that nature. It has been helpful, I think. He learns to recognize them without feeling pressured to perform for me. I also ask him to name letters when we read at night, going back and forth between letters he doesn't know well and letters he knows very well (to review and bolster his confidence). I praise his successes, but try to avoid being too effusive.

In sum, we're making progress. I look forward to the day when that "Never Recognizes" category is empty, and even more so to the day when he will "Always Recognize" all 26. If anyone has any tips, I'm definitely listening!