Learning to read, four ways

Around this time of year, it seems from my end of things, kindergarten really picks up. The phonetic spelling kicks into high gear, and these little learn to read books show up in their book bags.

The books are simple, repetitive, and short. It’s straightforward enough — sight words are repetition. They’ve got all the good stuff that comes with learning to read, there’s decoding, picture clues, and did I mention? Repetition.

Thomas started bringing these home a few weeks ago, and I’m struck by how the experience of this simple, straightforward reading practice differs so wildly for each of my children.

David, my firstborn, took on the task independently and efficiently. His teacher told him to practice reading, so he did, with absolutely zero input from me. David was so self-motivated to read that he’d throw down his book bag and practice his reading in the threshold of the kitchen.

Mary was different. We read through the books together, and she interpreted every suggestion as an insult to her integrity. The! Then! They! So many letters and words and EMOTIONS and how DARE I!?!? Each book started differently but ended in the exact same PUDDLE OF TEARS.

I didn’t think it was possible, but Thomas is taking us down a new, third road. Reading, as Thomas sees it, is just one huge opportunity for a punchline. He’ll decide on the first page that it’s funnier to pronounce “what” with a long Ā.  And sorry, Deb, we’re going to call you “Dead” and then sarcastically announce at the end of each page, “WHO WOULD NAME THEIR KID DEAD?”

In two years we’ll see how Anna interprets this homework.

My prediction is that the fourth child, the baby of the family, won’t be bothered. I’ll mention the books and she’ll roll her eyes and saunter out of the room muttering something about being “too cute to read.”


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *