Tuesday, February 16, 2010


I feel like Izzy is right on the cusp of reading. What is so interesting to me is how differently it is happening for her, at least, compared to Alex.

Alex was pre-reading for quite a while. It started around 2 1/2 and since his dad was beginning to read at that age, it was sort of expected. Not that we thought he had to read that early. Just that a boy who isn't even 2 having full sentence conversations with you and being able to express his feeling and frustrations through words sets the bar pretty high. It really didn't take until 3 1/2 but around his 4th birthday he graduated to the Magic Tree House books and never looked back.

I didn't teach Alex to read. I read to him, of course, be he gets all the credit. I remember bits and pieces of how it came together. There was the constant asking about what that sign said and what that paper said. He was relentless for a while and I couldn't wait to get past that phase. One of the first signs he read on his own was "The Beer Store". Too funny! We usually buy all our liquor from the LCBO (a government run liquor store - you can only buy booze in Ontario at those two places or small wine outlets run by the vineyards) so it was funny that it happened on one of those rare trips. I spent what felt like a long time right on the edge of waiting for it to happen. It wasn't gradual like I assumed it would be. It was like a flood gate that had opened. Someone recommended that I show him some Calvin and Hobbes, which he loved, and that induced him to read on his own.

Basically Alex went from asking me what it said to reading it back to me. I wish I knew if or what the middle step was but I don't. He watched a lot of the Leap Frog dvds on reading and letters but that was about it. I also own early reader books but didn't pull them out for him until it was too late to use them as learning tools.

Now I have Izzy and we are getting to the part where she asks, often, what this or that says. That is pretty much where the similarities end though. She is a kid who will only take life at her pace. She won't be prodded along even with level one princess books to entice her. No, she comes to me with the early readers and tells me what we are to work on together.

I see a system coming into play. She loves to write and will sit beside me for hours asking how to spell words. She has memorized quite a few of them now. I think she is breaking these words apart (by knowing what they are at first) and is now beginning to apply some of the rules to words she sees written elsewhere.

There is something methodical about this girl. She doesn't do things by accident and works until she achieves perfection. I get a kick out of seeing her learn through spelling. Especially since Alex could read so well and is only now catching up to his grade level in spelling. She will be a fantastic speller. Izzy reminds me a lot of myself at her age. I was a champion speller in school - winning end of year prizes. I also have a hard time moving on to other sentences until I feel the one I just wrote is up to snuff. That free-form writing was agony for me. There are a lot of similarities between the two of us.

It really is fascinating, watching their little brains go through these processes. They never do what I expect of them. I think she will be reading before her 5th birthday.

1 comment:

Butterfly said...

This is a REALLY good blog post!

It's so hard to pinpoint how children learn to read, and they're all different in attitude and what works for each one. I really enjoyed reading your observations about how it's happening for Alex and Izzy.

It also reminds me to stay in tune with my kids and keep respecting THEIR way!! Not to worry that we do things unconventionally. Thanks.

My kids are using diary/ journals now (dictate and trace, or have a go), and both seem ready to take off in their reading and writing! This feels like a "seatbelt required" fast ride kind of year.