In an effort to go from the 62%er that I am to the 85%er that my wife “jokes” about (see intro blog if you don’t know what I am talking about). I thought to myself. I am going to go above and beyond when it comes to making sure my children are smarter than me. It dawned on me that if I just let them be and keep them alive (which seems to be all I can muster on the average day) they will probably end up about as smart as I am and I just don’t think that will cut it in our current world.
My 4 ½ year old will be starting kindergarten next year as one of the youngest in the class. That fact coupled with his dad (me) being the idiot that I am could be disastrous, so we are going to learn to teach and read together. I tried to have him sound out words one by one but when we were reading before bed (the only time we can realistically work on this) he would just complain that he wants me to read or he would only read one word because he was tired.
The following are five steps that we have worked on over the last five nights. These little games seem to be improving his reading, confidence and my sense of worth as a parent.
- Each evening before bed we picked out a couple words (sight words, or names that he will read on each page). We started with him reading “I” everytime it appeared. He didn’t really have to pay attention he just knew that everytime my finger stopped or I paused he would say “I”. This was fine because it got him used to the idea and he agreed one word tonight and two words tomorrow night.
- Night two he read “I” and “I’m” this was a big shift because now he had to at least look at the word and see if there was an M present and it was a small enough change that he was still set up for success.
- Night three “I” “I’m” and any other two letter word that starts with I “in, is, if, it “. Now we are really making progress and he has to think phonetically for each word and determine whether it is a long I or short I.
- Night four we change it up to keep him from burning out and we read the “Moana” book which he can pretty much recite. He is responsible for all of the names. In most cases he knows which name is which from contextual clues but occasionally he must determine the difference between Moana and Maui. This night gave him a lot of confidence and showed him that he can make the leap from just reading I to reading Moana, Maui, Te fiti, Te Ka, Cheif Tui, and Gramma Talla, in just four days.
- We take a break for a few nights because we really want to keep it fun and continue to build the confidence. Some of the exercises we do or reading games are really just to build confidence and an awareness of how it’s ok to not know and it’s ok to be wrong its just fun to keep trying.
My son struggles a little bit with confidence when he feels like he doesn’t know how to do something (like read). I can see him avoiding things that he feels like he might fail at. It is now pretty well documented that grit, perseverance, and the foresight to choose delayed gratification are some of the most critical qualities to develop and have the highest correlations with a child’s future success and ability to adapt. I am constantly looking at ways that he can have positive experiences with perseverance or delayed gratification. The incremental improvement that is required in learning to read is the perfect example as long as I let his interest guide the learning.