Tuesday, October 04, 2011


One of the reasons first grade has been tough for me, is that Sophia has not been nearly as... interested in reading and writing as I'd hoped. Kindergarten was wonderful, but I did end the year knowing I planned on making up some time over the summer. We tried. And tried and tried. But it just wasn't going the way I'd always pictured it going. My creative attempts and patient voice didn't help, Sophia had decided that school was hard and homework was not fun and while she loves us to read to her, any attempts at getting her to read (even just the words she knows) usually ended badly. She would get so frustrated so quickly.

Her kindergarten teacher had told me once that Sophia's biggest challenge is that she's so hard on herself. So if she struggles with something, she just wants to write it off. She doesn't want to do it and fail. We've really worked on this -- and obviously we've taught her time and time again that everybody makes mistakes... that that's all part of learning and that's why we practice ... yada yada. But she would still get exhausted and frustrated after pointing out a few of her sight words in a book I was reading. I was feeling so discouraged. I want reading and learning to be a fun, positive thing, but she would fight me so much when I tried to work with her on it. Homework time became this combination of me being sugary sweet and dangling all sorts of rewards, her not giving in, me getting sterner, her storming off in frustration, me sneaking off for a mom--time-out.... it was a downward spiral. Too often, we were both grumpy and exhausted by the end.

I felt lost-- "WHAT am I supposed to do? I don't want to push her too much and make reading and learning a negative thing. But I don't want to let her get behind just because she doesn't 'want' to do it. At what point do you teach them--- yeah, sometimes school sucks, but you HAVE to do it if you want to be a smart grown-up. ?" You know?

This is one of the reasons I was so stressed when she didn't get the teacher I'd hoped for. I knew we might have some challenges this year, and I figured the least I could do was get her set up in the best possible situation with a teacher that could 'make learning fun.' Because clearly, I'd failed.

My point in writing this post was positive. I think we may have, quite possibly, maybe just turned a corner. (!!!) I'm still knocking on wood.

But the other day, she grabbed Hop on Pop, a simple Dr. Seuss book perfect for brand new readers. One I've tried to get her interested in reading since kinder. She said, "I want to read this mom." And she read it all. Of course I knew she could. But now SHE knows she can. She was so excited that she could read a whole book... she kept saying these amazing things I've always wanted to hear like:

"I love reading mom"
"I want to read this book again and again and again mom"
" I want to read forever and ever mom... reading is SOO much fun."

Oh my.

Pinch me.

Ever since, she's been carrying it around, reading it here and there. She came in our room the next morning and started reading it aloud at 6am. Usually we'd make them be quiet--- this time we didn't.

She's picking up other books and trying them out, realizing how many words she knows, and how many she can figure out. And always, I can see it on her face, the astonishment and pride that she just strung together a whole story.

I feel like it's changed her whole attitude. I'm still knocking on wood... but it's soooo much better. And I feel like we may have just turned a really big corner. This girl makes me so proud.


Lacy said...

Wow! I am so glad you wrote this post- it is one of those precious mommy moments you have to keep reliving on the hard days! Yay, Sophia! You are an amazing girl!

Jennifer said...

I love Dr. Seuss books! I remember learning to love reading because of these books too! Way to go, Sophia! Ammon is super hard on himself too, so I totally get the frustration. You are a great mom Lillie, I love the stories.

Brandon or Michelle said...

oh this growing up thing is hard on kids and moms alike. I'm always secretly glad Z missed the cut off and is the OLDEST 1st grader--he's just BARELY getting better at reading as well, and he's 7 now! luckily, it seems like when it catches on, it really catches on. hooray for turned corners and happy girls.

Heidi McMillan said...

Yeah Sophia....I can read and I have no idea when I learned how :+)) One of my favorite therapists that used to work with Tyler used to say, "he'll learn when he is ready and until then he'll be working on learning other stuff that is just as important." Love the party.