Sunday, February 8, 2009

Teaching a Child to Read....In 10,000 Easy Lessons

Okay, I am trying to get back into the whole blogging thing but am still not feeling a lot of motivation or inspiration. So, I am just going to share a little more in depth about some of the stuff going on. Today, Dancer, tomorrow....???

I was always a "natural" scholar. School came easy for me. I taught myself to read when I was four and read EVERYTHING I could find from then on. Through high school, I NEVER had to study. I heard something...I remembered it. I had a great G.P.A. without ever trying and if I had actually, you know, put forth a little effort probably could have done even better.

I never developed study skills (never had to) until college. Do you know that in college, the professors will actually assign reading, never discuss it and then TEST YOU ON IT! Oh, yes they will! I even had one who would test on the captions beneath the pictures...of course he also had about a 30 point curve on his tests...I actually got an A on a test once with a low 7o because of the huge curve (I'm not complaining!).

Anyway, one of my greatest struggles in home schooling has been learning to teach things in a way that my kids grasp. Sometimes, I just don't understand why they don't "get it", it is so simple! I totally understand struggles with math...that is the area that has always drug me down, but reading??? It is just a bunch of letters and sounds.

Football Boy was a little slow picking up reading, but not bad. And now, he is a GREAT reader! Baseball boy never missed a beat, he HATES to read, but he can do it! Dancer....oh Dancer. I think part of my problem has been expectations. I read easily. I am a girl. Dancer is a girl. Girls tend to do better at language arts. I just expected that she would be my "easy one". I was wrong!

She even did great last year. She knew all her letters and sounds and by the end of pre-k was blending small, one vowel words without problem. And then, we began kindergarten. It has been like she has forgotten everything. She regularly does the regular switching b and d, but she has also totally lost e and i. I know, the sounds are similar, but she knew them last year. Now, they may as well be Greek. I knew she was struggling a little and had talked to her tutorial teacher and was told not to worry, she would get it.

Then, came Thanksgiving. We went to Disneyworld without ever opening a backpack. Little did I know that her teacher had sent 10 (yes 10) lessons home to be done over the break. Apparently, her class is so smart that they were just skipping ahead to long vowels after the break...only I didn't get the memo! We worked hard to get caught up and were plugging away when Christmas came and I got her progress report. I literally cried. Every single thing had a mark or comment about how she was struggling...I have never seen so much red ink...and I was a teacher back in the day. Anyway, her teacher graciously volunteered to meet with her in the mornings before school after Christmas and I gratefully accepted! Over Christmas, we tried to read as much as possible but mostly I began to realize how many times we push her school aside or say we will read later and never get around to it. After all, it is just kindergarten and the big boys have all these hard lessons...and the guilt began. Of course, I should have been reading with her, making her school a priority, letting her read with the boys...but I didn't. So now, here we are.

To make matters worse, after a few sessions with her tutorial teacher, she came to talk to me one day. Now, let me say, I love Ms. S, she is precious and I appreciate her so much! However, the conversation went something like this:

"Dancer is so sweet, all the kids love her! They fight over who gets to sit next to her and everyone wants to be her friend. She is so helpful and sweet and respectful and has such good manners! She is doing better and I can tell you have been working with her. So, she will probably never be at the top of her class, but she has so much else going for her!"

Ya'll I am not lying...that is what she told me! NO PARENT wants to hear that! Tell me she is improving, tell me how I can help, tell me to work harder, but DO NOT TELL ME IT IS HOPELESS! Now, I totally know she meant this well and did not mean to be offensive, but my nerves are raw and I am tired and I just don't want it to be a struggle all the time, so I probably overreacted! I was nice, I thanked her and smiled and didn't even cry. In front of her. But that is where we are.

I am still tired, still frustrated, and still struggling to not push off reading until later. This week we even had an assignment that involved poster board. Maybe it is just me, but poster board assignments should have at least a week due date. I don't happen to have a stash at my house. Unfortunately, the project was assigned Tues. and was due Thurs. The same day F.B. was supposed to turn in his Science Fair board. The day after I was to make snacks for Bible Study. So, Wed., I had to go to the grocery store, do school, help with Science Fair, make snacks, assist in a poster board project and be at church at 5:30 and to top it off, F.B. ended up sick. Guess what we didn't do? Read. I am so mad at myself. I should have read, I should have said no to the poster board, called the Bible Study leader, something, anything...but I didn't.

So, there is that struggle in a nut shell. I am sure she will get it eventually. I am sure the days will get better and the struggles will subside. I am just not sure how much counseling it will take to get over it!


CJ, the Purple Diva said...

I'm sure she will get this reading thing down-you just keep reading to her. She'll come around!
I think the thing that I really want to say in this post is how upsetting that comment was that the teacher said. And you are right, NO parent wants to hear that about their child especially from a teacher. I hope that little Dancer grows up and becomes at famous writer! And make sure she keeps and autographed copy first!
Don't beat yourself up mom! You are doing a great job!

Aimee said...

Whew! I am exhausted just reading about this, no wonder you are worn out.

We have a similar situation going on here with Fiver. Francie taught herself to read at 4 yo and has been reading like an adult ever since. She has a 100 average in English/Spelling in school.

FIver is getting there, but much more slowly. I thought maybe some of his other delays were interfering with his reading, but he seems to be fine as far as we know. He just processes things so much more slowly than Francie.

And I know she meant well, but my reaction to Dancer's teacher would have been the same as yours. That's like saying "She's dumb as a post, but she'll be the prom queen for sure!" There's nothing wrong with being the prom queen, but don't put that out there as the alternative to being good in school!

Oy - I'm praying for you both :)

Growin' with it! said...

poor thing. really, i do feel sorry for you. what a weight to carry and deal with. with not a lot of hope from a teacher either. we have some of those sorta struggles around here with reading. i wish so very much that my boys would LOVE to read. ugg. but i figure it is like diapers, pacifiers, their teens it will all hopefully work itself out. well, yea cuz by then...we'll have TEEN issues to deal with.

chin up sister.

Anonymous said...

i feel for you! dancer will get it...i'm sure of it. reading takes a lot of time (and patience from the parent!). she's still young. just keep reading, reading, reading! have you done books on CD? sometimes just following along in books and having her have some independence listenting to them with headphones, does some help. my students used to LOVE reading/following along to a book on CD. i'm sure you could find some for cheap online. scholoastic, i know for sure, would have plenty to choose from. remember, she doesn't always need to be doing the reading. having her listen to her brothers or you and your husband read aloud to her is very beneficial.

i could go on and on...but you know all these things probably. i just want to help...i feel bad for your struggles. i'm sure i'll be there one day too...fighting to get reading homework done!

sounds like you are doing all you can...and that's all you can do. do the best you can with what you have! you're doing a great job!