Saturday, April 10, 2010

A Whole New World

Do you see that? Do you see the boy laying on his bed reading a chapter book all by himself?! A CHAPTER book!!! He disappeared in his room for an hour yesterday reading. (and there's a cute little boy amidst the blankies too) I have to write about this, though I warn you that it will be a very braggy post. But hey, I'm his mom, I can brag on him if I want to.

So I took this pic, very secretly I might add, yesterday. I've started asking Ben to do some reading everyday as part of his home work. Usually, he picks from the Beginning Reader books we borrow from the library, and he reads through them. Which means, he reads them, he knows the words and he can read the sentences, but he just reads through it. He doesn't always know exactly what has happened in the story because he was rushing to just get the "Reading" done. When that happens, I ask him to go back and read it again more slowly and he gets it and we move on. I'm happy that he's able to read well and it's been a lot of fun watching him go through the process - but I was still concerned that he wasn't really understanding what he was reading. Flashback to reading comprehension parts of the CAT Testing we had to do in elementary school flood my mind when I try to explain this, that and reading French during high school. I could understand it and tell you what had happened after reading it a few times, but did I enjoy it? No. Did I care about the characters? No. Did I just want to answer the questions and be done? Yes. I was terrified that Ben would feel this way about reading at the rate things were going. But then, something changed.

We've been working on a Lapbook about Ancient Egypt for a couple of weeks now and so I checked out a copy of Mummies In The Morning from the library and started reading it to him on Wednesday. He really enjoyed the first chapter we read and then the next day asked if I could read some more. I really wanted to, I LOVE reading out loud to the kids - but the chaos of the house at that moment just didn't cooperate. So he asked, HE ASKED, if he could read it to himself. I said sure (who wouldn't?) and low and behold he read a chapter on his own. SO, Friday rolls around and I asked him to do some reading. He picked up Mummies, went into his room and read SIX (6) chapters!!! Maybe it's just the excitement of this book, and the tie in to a subject that he's especially interested in right now - but whatever the key, I'm happy. SO happy for Ben!!!

This is a huge deal for him, me, US because at the beginning of this school year, the beginning of our first year of actively homeschooling, I was concerned that Ben wouldn't know how to read at the end of the year. In all reality, the more I've read about it the more at peace I am with the pressure to have kids reading at a certain age. But, this year as a whole has felt like a test for me in some ways when it comes to homeschooling and learning to read felt like the final exam for me.

Learning to read was really a struggle for both of us for a while. It was on the verge of becoming something we both hated. Him, because it was stressful and not fun, me because I wanted him to enjoy reading, to experience what's out there in those books, and to be able to share that with him. But I had to back off. The key with so many things in life seems to be to just allow them to happen. To create a nurturing environment to encourage them to happen, but not push them. I've found whenever I push too hard for something in life, it backfires on me in some way. So, I sat back. We worked on sounding out words and I reading directions to his math and grammar work together, but that was really it. I didn't force him to work on reading. Somehow, somewhere along the line he started sounding things out more and more and as we'd drive around he'd read street signs to me, and then he was reading labels on food and then he was reading the titles of movies on the tv, and before I knew it he was really reading. Now, he's reading a chapter book and he's loving it. That's all I wanted for him; the ability to read and enjoy reading. He's on his way....through Ancient Egypt first!

Not to be outdone, Nate was found in the same spot with one of his books a few hours later. :)


Hilaree said...

Go, Ben, go! Isn't it amazing witnessing our childrens' absolute BRILLIANCE!?!

Feistygirl keeps telling me, "I don't want to learn to read, I only like to spell and write." Which of course I think is hysterically funny.

alyssa said...

That is so great for Ben! (and you) I SO wish Henning would get there. I am trying so hard to let it happen on its own but I am feeling that stress and pressure. i was so hoping he would have one of these A HA moments this year but it hasn't happened.

Kristi said...

Orion got into the Magic Treehouse books for a while -- he would read for hours every day, and even bring his books into the grocery store to read while we walked around shopping.

He's "off Magic Treehouse" now, but he has a ton he's collected, and might be willing to loan some to Ben if he gets hooked on Jack and Annie.