She may not be the most athletic kid out there, but girl has a crazy awesome imagination and an amazing recall for all kinds of stories. She knew the alphabet as a toddler but I have been really impressed how in the last nine months or so she has really picked up the concept of phonics, syllables, and the concepts of capitalization. Her pre-K program uses the Handwriting Without Tears program and her writing is really good (I think) for a four year old. For several months now she has been really into chapter books. Our favorite so far has been the Magic Treehouse series, and she consistently surprises me with her level of engagement and recall. Basically, she's a genius.
She knows probably 30 to 40 "sight" words (words that you just memorize because you see them so often--like 'the' or 'and' or 'at' or.... you get the picture), and can identify and sound out a whole lot of non-sight words as well. The other day she picked up an early reader book (it was about Clifford, the big red dog), and read the entire thing. She had never seen it before so I know it wasn't because she memorized it (which she has done with several other books), but she actually read every single word correctly. There were some words that I knew there was no way she knew or reasonably could have figured out (like elephant), and when I asked her how she knew she looked at me like I was an idiot and said, "it started with E and there's a picture of an elephant on the page." When I told Bubby (a retired teacher and reading specialist) that she was reading but cheating a little by looking at the pictures, she looked at me like I was an idiot and said, "that's what they are supposed to do." How was I supposed to know that?
According to the expert, Norah is currently reading at a first grade level. I told you. Genius.*
*We have never done a single flashcard, a second of homework, or drilled/quizzed her in any way. We just sent her to a play based pre-school that integrates learning at all levels and then read to her each and every day. She is starting to figure it out because she is interested and her brain is ready for it. We are also employing the same concepts to help her do things like ride a bike. At the rate she is going with that, she will be twenty-seven before she figures it out. And will still need training wheels.