Wednesday, February 1, 2012

You will succumb!

Even if you promise yourself you won't do it, you will. At some point in your child's early school years, you will succumb. Perhaps by acknowledging this, it will make the pill less bitter to swallow. You WILL compare your precious offspring to other children his age and desperately want to know and be reassured as to where he ranks. The one that will get you, I'm sure, is sight words...or reading level...Kindergarten buzz words! Each year, guidelines and recommendations seem to become more stringent. Kindergarten children are now expected to recognize and read 90 words before they enter first grade. 90 words! Meanwhile, some children begin Kindergarten at just barely 5 years old, and some that have been cut off by admission date rules are nearly six. If you think that eleven or so months make no difference, compare your child's work in September to your child's work in June ( a nine month span!) Even if you do not have a school age child right now, reading this has made you worry a bit, right? Well, I just want to say to you, RELAX! I am presently on the fourth round of this Kindergarten mania, and here is the truth: Your child will read. Not one moment before he is ready, not any sooner if you demand/desire/beg/plead! 

My first child entered K at 4 yrs, 9 mos. (grandfathered in to the current age rules) She was the youngest in her class. Listening/ helping her try to read or even sound out words in FIRST grade was so painful. I have always been an avid reader and couldn't comprehend how my sweet daughter, who was so much like me in every other way, could not grasp the concept of reading. Then one day, in second grade, it just clicked for her. A light bulb went on! She got it! She understood..and she loved reading! By third grade, she was reading Harry Potter books, soaring through her 30 book challenge at school, and, more importantly, reading because she loved it!

My next child had earlier success, because he can memorize anything. Not necessarily comprehend what he is memorizing, but spitting it back mechanically was nearly effortless. Ok, we got this...we learned...we are super parents! Wrong! This kid is in 6th grade now. Hates to read. Sees it as a punishment. This is the kid we backed off on!

Third go-round. He was slow to catch on. In fact, number 4, a school year behind him, was hot on his tail. She begged for "word cards" like his, and quickly caught on. Earlier this week, number 3 grabs a book that I think is beyond his level and asks if he can read it to me. I am amazed that he reads it without faltering. Meanwhile, parent conference this weekend shows that number 4 is close to a full grade level ahead.

Moral of this story...patience, reassurance, and positive reinforcement are your best weapons in this battle. Trust in God...the rest will come!

Jennifer Oliver Nunes is a mother to five wonderful, crazy children and is happily married to an equally wonderful, crazy man. She spends her time trying to balance her family's hectic schedules and activities and praying for her checkbook!

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