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Monday, July 21, 2008

The Road to Reading

I continue to work with Trey on his reading.
It has been so interesting to be the parent
of three children 
and to watch the reading process unfold for each of them.

Kate had great difficulty learning to read.
She also had difficulty mastering her letters.

Through no lack of exposure,
she managed to get through two years of preschool,
numerous educational games and shows
and a kindergarten curriculum-
and still not be sure of every one of her letters and letter sounds.

Really, it bordered on excruciating.

Finally, sometime in her mid-first grade year,
the concepts began to fall into place for her.

By second-third grade, she was a voracious reader
and today you never, EVER see her without a book.
To read is as natural, and necessary, to her as breathing.

Even so, the mechanics of English-
the writing, the spelling, the nuances and flow
of the written word,
still are her Achille's heel.

Chris, on the other hand, was her polar opposite.
In fact, words and letters and letter sounds came to him
by osmosis, it seems.
He would simply absorb it, get it by intuition.
The rules which I had to painstakingly decipher for Kate,
like "ea" says ee and that a consonant-vowel-consonant-e word makes the e silent and the vowel say its name,
OVER AND OVER AGAIN,
he just got, by himself.

Like me, he is a wordie. 
He loves words, spells naturally and enjoys it.
Loves writing, loves the written word in riddles and puns.

He also likes reading, although his devotion is diluted
by a love of video games and electronics
that compete for his time and attention.

Trey's journey has mimicked Kate's on many levels.

I won't lie-
I was hoping for the opposite to be true.
Teaching him to read is a painful, long process
and frankly, it isn't too incredibly fun for either of us.
We try to make it fun, don't get me wrong.
But trying to learn something that doesn't come naturally
is hard and painstakingly slow.
I sit and try to exude waves of patience and support
as he goes over each kernel in the word.
Each letter.
One at a time,
until I want to scream the word out so we can just GET ON WITH IT ALREADY!!

I bite my tongue to keep from saying
"You just read that word one sentence before.
It's the same word!"
as he sounds it out, 
because for him, it feels new every time.

I re-read sentences after he gets them,
because by the time he has figured out 
each-individual-word-a-letter-at-a-time,
the sentence, the meaning, the story
has been utterly lost.

I am grateful to have had Kate before him.
It eases my worry to see how she developed into a strong reader,
that she is capable and that this pain will eventually morph
into pleasure.

I try to calm my fears that this child has had two years of preschool,
a year of private kindergarten,
a year of public kindergarten,
and three quarters of a year using the Headsprout reading program
and is now rising to first grade and still working hard for each word.
He'll get there
and we will look back on the journey,
with its hills and valleys and struggles-
and be very, very proud.


2 comments:

The Woman said...

lol yup its new to them, my son is just starting to read and he loves it when he can pick a book at the library and bring it home and read it with no help. Makes me wanna laugh and cry at the same time. My daughter loves reading too always has.

Ginaagain said...

Zane was still doing that in third grade and they were talking about holding him back because of it. However, he was scoring well on comprehension tests. This was the biggest reason for deciding to homeschool him. In fourth grade we read every single word of every text book and by the end of that year I had no doubt that he could read because he would read his lessons for the day and then tell me what he had learned. His recall was amazing. However, he is still unable to read aloud and his spelling is horrid.