It's amazing what little ones will do when they are free to use their minds as they see fit. My sweet boy is what you would call a beginning reader... meaning he sounds outbasic 3-4 letter words. While I was busy with something-or-other during our "first week of school", he decided he wanted to practice reading. On his own. His reading material of choice? Cat in the Hat? Bob Books? Nooooo. The Map of the World.
My instinct was to jump in and say, "Honey, that's about the hardest thing there is to read. The letters for the countries follow completely different rules because the sounds are not always based on English and... well Kazakhstan is just going to tongue tie you!"
But I didn't. It took all I had to swallow my "wise words" and watch him try. I was ready for him to get mad at not being able to figure out the words he was looking at. I was ready for him to mess up. I was ready for him to give up.
I was not ready for him to start reading the words on the map. Brazil. Peru. Japan. Canada. Mexico. Columbia. Egypt. Sudan. Tanzania. India. Poland. Russia. Pakistan. Iran. Mali. Kenya. Somalia. Sri Lanka. And yes, Kazakhstan.
I also wasn't ready for him to start remembering where thse places were after reading them once. He started getting excited about how these places had meaning to him. It all started to click... "That's where Makenzie lives now!"... "That's where Magellan sailed his ships!"... "That's where sushi comes from!"... "That's where our people are from!"... "That's where the pyramids are!"... "That's where Neel's mommy is from!"... "That's where Ricardo lives!" And all I had to do was nod and smile and hold my tongue and once in a while say "That's right buddy, you got it!"