Repost: The Reading Hump

November 10, 2011 in books,lessons for moms

Reposts are from a blog I started when my girls were younger. I’ve changed nothing about their content so you can read my thinking process when my girls were younger.  This post was written when my oldest was in the second half of her first grade year. I worried that she would might not ever be a good reader. 

Image from Pivotal Kids Books, a great site about how to
motivate your kids to read and what books to suggest

The Reading Hump

I used to hold my breath too often when I listened to Bird read. Deep breath before the the word know, exhale, I can’t believe she knows that word. Quick inhale before the word, how did she know not to make the -ea into a long vowel sound?

There is a hump in learning to read. Some kids climb up and over the hump easily. Some struggle. Bird has made it over the hump. The hump is enough language, word and spelling awareness to decode. From an early age, teachers emphasize phonetic sounds and my little Bird dutifully learned the short and long vowel sounds. But phonetic sounds aren’t sophisticated enough for the English language so about 1 in every 5 words (an estimate) breaks the phonetic rules. And then a reader just has to know. Bird struggled last year, and for the first quarter of this year with reading. In her smart school, she was lagging behind her friends who could already tackle the annoying Junie B. A little time, a switch to leveled reading groups, and some phonetic maturity and Bird actually likes to read a little. She gets it, but a game of chase will always be more appealing.

I am relieved– though I still hold my breath too much. I always knew she would get it, that it would be fine, at least that’s the confidence I verbalized. But my English teacher, arrogant, academic-self harbored a secret fear that she wouldn’t. Why wasn’t my kid an early reader? What if all the parts of reading never came together? What if I had to pull her out of her smart school? What if she was the worst reader in her class and it forever scarred her? Wow, can my mind travel. And it traveled even as I reassured another mom, who somehow found out I have a reading endorsement, that every kid learns to read at a different pace. And I believed my words–about that other kid.

Today I just want to say, that Bird is a reader now and I am not as confident as my words indicate (who is?). I am so proud for Bird. She no longer shies away from trying to read signs, cereal boxes, and labels. She regularly asks questions about words she can’t figure out and no longer throws books on the floor, having reached a peak in her patience level. She proudly reads words likenectar (on the honey jar) and then announces,”Mom, I can spell nectar.” She can read, and I was privileged to watch the process. It’s amazing.

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