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Sam Sat on Mat

Posted on Friday, November 27, 2009 in Preschool, Reading

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I love that I get to be the person who teaches my children how to read.  I love being there for the first word, the first sentence, the first Dr. Seuss book, and the first time they read a chapter without giving up.  It’s like watching their minds open a little wider with each step, a gateway to stories and information.

Even though I would never give up this un-paid gig, it hasn’t been an easy task.

“I can’t do it,” with a huff.

“You read it mommy.”

“I can’t do it!” with a loud siren sound.

With our first child, the path to reading was completely new territory for her and for me(learning for her, and teaching for me). The right books, curriculum, style of teaching, all of these seemed mysterious and I knew there must be one right answer.  Now I know, of course, that there are many right ways to go down this path, but at that point I hadn’t walked with a child to the other side.  I wondered if I’d chosen the correct tools and even more, I wondered if she would even learn to read at all.

My eldest learned with Sing, Spell, Read, and Write.  She grasped the phonics rules quickly, appreciating their neat and tidy rules.  The next daughter didn’t care much for the tidy rules and clear boudaries(and yes that trait does flow in the rest of her life as well).  Once she got past the basic letter sounds, she complained her way through the phonics lessons for the length of kindergarten.  In the summer, when we offered her some reading incentives, she leapt up several levels by sheer force of will. And followed suit again the next summer.  Just don’t ask her the “I before E except after C” rule.

The next child to enter the reading gates is The Boy.  I haven’t been in a hurry to teach him this skill.  After schooling his sisters, I had an advantage.  I knew the question wasn’t if he would read, it was simply of a matter when.   This knowledge makes for a much more relaxed teacher mama.  Until recently he’s been the snuggly little brother who follows around after the girls.  He been mommy’s little boy.  But lately he’s been coming into his own and one way is his readiness for new skills.    He started by pointing to specific words in books, “What’s that word mommy?” I told him the word. “And this word?”  And it went on like this with me convinced that he would get bored, and him still asking two pages later.

Drawing letters, playing alphabet games, surprising me with the letter sounds, and then, two days ago, he read his first book. And for the third, and no less exciting time, I sat with one of my children as they experienced reading for the first time. For all of the activities and practice, the beginning of reading still feels like magic.

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Some of the tools we’ve used:

Making a Letter Notebook

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Getting Set for the Code

Melissa and Doug’s Alphabet Puzzle

Melissa and Doug’s Alphabet Magnets

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