Sunday, December 11, 2005

I don't think I remarked on the long awaited and (to me) momentous time when Aidan STARTED TO READ. It was about a month ago now, not too long after his birthday, when he came to me and said "I know how to read". How cool is that? He has been able to make the correct sounds for the various letters for a good year (and much more for most) with the exception of the short vowel sounds. He was quite unable to string together those sounds he could make into something that was comprehensible to himself. D-O-G nope - no idea what that word is. I could occasionally get him to read a word to me but it was always pretty grudging - he just wanted to be left alone, and since he is getting essentially to repeat kindergarted that seemed like a good idea - let's leave him something to learn at school! At the public schools now there is a huge push to get the kids reading in kindergarten - no small feat considering that some of them haven't been to preschools and have trouble "sitting on their bottoms" let alone knowing their colors and letters. As a consequence there is also much work on site words such as "I" "see" "my" "and" "the" are some Aidan picked up immediately. And it seemed to work in his case as he then became very interested when he saw those words - or any others he had picked up - and he would point them out to me. Something clearly clicked for him and he decided he could read - and indeed he can sound out and comprehend just about any word that has regular phonics. The other great thing they did early on this year was use this system where each letter is represented by an animal - "Allie Aligator" "Bubba Bear". When he still sometimes stumbles over a short vowel I ask him which animal - and that sorts it out immediately. He is far from a fluent reader and is of course slow, but he reads and he is proud of the fact and interested in doing it. Hurray! Their school / class has DEAR time first thing every morning "Drop Everything And Read". There is a basket of books sitting at each cluster of tables. Aidan informed me the first few days of school that he disliked DEAR time - he is just about the only kid I have ever seen who never sat down and opened a book and pretended to read - with the more recent exception of hunkering down with his brother to "read" to their stuffed animals. He has always enjoyed being read to - the more the better. But he now tells me he really LIKES DEAR time, and that he sounds out part of the words to himself - usually on each page. He still would prefer me to do the reading at times - he said "but then I don't understand what I read" once - and it can be true - when so much effort is going into sounding out new words you have trouble remembering the ones you've figured out.

I have been enjoying watching both my kids (and others) aquire new skills. They all have different tactics to get to the same places. Of course I mostly compare my 2 kids. I was fascinated to watch Aidan figuring out puzzles when he was young. Back in the old wood puzzle days I realized that he was looking at the outline of the shape and not the picture itself - it was a very spatial approach. He also used to make things more challenging (or easier??) for himself by rotating puzzles or doing them flipped over (some rubber ones we have). He had a bit of a set back when it came to true jigsaws as the clues are mostly all pictorial there - he had to relearn how to do puzzles. We had a puzzle marathon right after Thanksgiving. Including me finishing off a 1000 piece awful one that we've picked at for several years and then doing another more "regular" 1000 piecer that I did in a couple of days. The kids did a couple of 300 pc, a 200 pc, several 100 pc and others. Quincy can do 60 piece jigsaws without me even looking and if I sort out pieces for him he can do 100 piece ones independantly. Which for some reason really impresses me. He is very non-challant about it and plays with the pieces along the way. He also is very happy to just keep trying a piece in all sorts of places without getting frustrated - Aidan gets frustrated and/or gives up easier. He also is pretty mellow about he brother coming in and snatching pieces away from him and putting them in (altho Mom and Dad aren't so mellow about it!).

I was interested one day last summer at the preschool when Quincy was playing a game with 2 boys about to head to kindergarten. You had to find a matching tile that had 2 features on the dice then you had to line up the tile so the picture on it held hands the the next tile. Quincy is not all that great at spotting the missing thing in a field (he brother is great at that and loves doing search type puzzles/games) but he was much better than the older kids at rotating the tiles to get them correctly lined up. He is not great at bingo games - he just doesn't see the thing on his board - but give him a jigsaw piece in hand and he is very good at figuring out where it belongs on the puzzle. Interesting.

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