Aislynn, our #7, started the second grade this year. She is homeschooling just like she did last year. I enjoy teaching Aislynn because she is always eager to do her work and never complains. By the end of first grade, however, she wasn’t reading. She struggled with simple words like “cat” and “big” and “they” — words she learned (or I thought she learned) in Kindergarten. Honestly, I didn’t think too much of it because I had a “late reader” before — her sister Avery — who did not read until the end of the second grade. But here’s where I made my mistake: I assumed that Aislynn’s lack of reading was to be compared to Avery’s lack of reading. Just not ready. No interest. Will read at her own pace. When really, I should have paid more attention to the differences between the two.
Avery did not want to read. She would let me read to her, but when it came to independent reading she would simple not do it. She would say things like “Ugh…I don’t want to.” or “I’m not going to.” and oh wow, was she a hard student for me. She would get all of her spelling words right, but she would not read a book. She would not read sentences. She just didn’t want to and wouldn’t do it. I didn’t want to force her because I feared that would make her hate reading. I figured she would read when she was ready. One day shortly after her second grade year had ended, she came back from a friend’s house and was very upset.
“Mom! Jenna is reading chapter books! She’s reading the American Girl books!”
“So I should be reading those kinds of books! Not stupid Dr. Suess baby books!”
“Avery…I’ve been trying to work with you on reading! You haven’t wanted to learn. Do you want to learn now?”
And so that summer she started reading. By the time the third grade started, she was reading grade level chapter books. I don’t know what to call that ~ reading readiness? caving to peer pressure? or just plain being stubborn? Maybe all of the above. But my point is that Avery read when she was good and ready to read, and no sooner.
But Aislynn is different in that she wants to read. She tries hard to read. She, too, has always learned to spell her spelling words, so last year I figured she was just a late reader… like Avery. And like Avery she would eventually start reading, when she’s ready.
A few days ago I asked Aislynn to read from a book. I watched as she struggled to read the words we had just gone over the day before. It was a simple sentence, and we had read it quite a few times during the week. It was as if she were seeing it for the first time. So I spoke with her about it.
“Aislynn, what is it about these words that you don’t get? We went over them yesterday, and the day before, and the day before…”
“I know, mom! But I just can’t read them! I’m just dumb, that’s all!”
So of course my heart broke in a million pieces when she said that. I saw a tear slide down her cheek.
“Aislynn, you are not dumb. I promise you that. I want to help you. What do you see when you look at the words?”
She thought for a minute and then said, “They move.”
I was shocked. “What do you mean ‘they move’?”
“They shake and move on the page.”
They shake and move on the page?
I was so happy to hear that! Well, don’t get me wrong. Of course I don’t want her to have vision problems, but at least that would explain things! And that could be fixed with glasses!
The next day ….. we were at the eye doctor.
And I must say, she looks pretty cute in those glasses!