Friday, December 15, 2006


I have a love/hate relationship with teaching my children to read. I love that I am teaching them something so vital to their success in life. It warms my heart to see the understanding dawn on them. To go from "what's that letter, Mom?" to picking up a can of foaming bath soap and reading "ff-uh-nnn that says 'fun'! Mom, that says Fun Fum(foam)!"

I have often felt sorry for all those parents of public school kids that send their little Kindergarteners off to school for someone else to teach them to read. Some are reading when they go into Kindergarten, but not very many. All those parents missing out on telling their little ones the sounds of the letters and how they go together. Over, and over, and over...this is where the hate part comes in.

My sixth child is now Kindergarten age. Usually I don't do much preschool type stuff with them so by age 5 they mostly know their letters and not much else. Six kids means six times 100 times of saying "A says ă like in cat." Six times 1000 times of saying "T-H-E says 'the' most of the time." Oh Lord, save me from this repetition.

C-K says 'k'
Q-U says 'kw'

Why does the english language have to be so confusing? It just doesn't seem fair to keep changing the rules all the time. First 'A' says ă, then just when the kid is getting that without having to be reminded a billion times, all of a sudden it says 'ā'--but only if there is an E at the end of the word. Or a Y. And what about "said" or "ball". No wonder I have to keep saying it. There is so much to remember.

And then. The worst part of all. I can handle the repetition somewhat, because it is necessary. But I declare that having to listen to the PAINFUL sounding out of the words is going to be the death of me. I am a busy person. Often we are doing reading lessons in between my chores, other schoolwork, computer work, etc. Crying baby, crabbing toddler, piano playing in the background. Then I have to sit down and listen to "hhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh (deep breath because he used it all on the first H) hhhhh hhhh aaaaaaa t. Hhhh (breath) aaat. Hat." For every word. It is all I can do to smile and say "Good job! Next word." Meanwhile my mind is screaming "JUST KILL ME NOW!!!!!!!!!!"

My absolute favorite part of teaching reading is when the child finally gets it. It stops being all about sounding out each letter and more about just knowing what the words are. It is fascinating to me to actually be able to see that transition. And so exciting! When my kids go from thinking they can't read (but trying anyway because Mom is making them) to believing they can. That is when reading becomes fun and not a chore.

Soon my little redheaded 5 year old will be reading fluently. I will forget all about wanting to bang my head against the wall and only fondly remember teaching him to read. Then it will be time for the next one to learn.

Joab reading
If you want to take a listen I hope this works. Background accompaniment courtesy of 9 year old piano player.

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