Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Learning To Read

My daughter Emily is a brilliant, beautiful, delightful, kind, wonderful child. Despite this she struggled to learn to read. She found it a frustrating process and by second grade would cry whenever we got a book out. She hated it. As her teacher, I felt terrible and it weighed on me that perhaps it was my fault. (There is plenty of guilt to pass around when it comes to raising children let alone home schooling them!) Anyway, by the beginning of third grade we were both crying from frustration. A wise friend and our supervising teacher sat down with me and asked what our goal was. I just wanted Emily to like literature. I love to read and I wanted her to experience the joy that could be found in the written word. I wanted her to find friends in her favorite books and see the world from the perspective of the ages. After further discussion we decided that what we were currently doing was not furthering that goal it was actually hindering the process. I decided to take the drastic step of stopping her reading program. For the rest of the third grade Emily was not once required to read anything. I read to her, hours ever day, drawing her into stories and characters. Laughing and crying over the books we would read together but never once did I ask her to read. By the end of the school year, into summer I started noticing that she was picking up books and paging through them. Through the summer she began to read on her own and I continued to read to her as well. When she started fourth grade we picked up her third grade reader where we had left off a year before. Her ability level had not changed but her attitude and MY attitude had changed. By the end of that school year she had finished her third grade reader, finished her fourth grade reader and was reading at grade level. She reads and reads and reads. I have been wanting her to move out of the easy readers and try something a little more substantial but she has had a mental block with any book that appeared to have to many words. I have been waiting, pointing out books that I thought she would enjoy that might be a little more challenging. She has rebuffed the suggestions each time, until last week, when at the library she picked out a junior chapter book.

This whole long story was to celebrate that yesterday Emily finished her first 104 page chapter book!!! As we danced around the living room and shouted congratulations I felt the unmistakable thrill of VICTORY! Emily has won.