Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Ah, Buh, Kuh, Duh, Eh

Today is M's Reading Day at school. Once a week, each child sits down with a parent volunteer (or lacking that, whoever they can snag in the hallway) and works on reading the weekly book assignment and learning their "key words." It's a way for the school to give each child some extra one-on-one attention as well as measure their progress with a list of words they are supposed to recognize on sight.

I happily volunteered to help out once a week. Unfortunately, this was before I realized that the kids were learning to read with phonics. (Every American reading this just thought "Hooked on Phonics worked for me!" Advertising totally works.)

Whenever I'm doing reading with the kids, I always get slightly panicky. Because while phonics are straightforward when it comes to single letters (except soft "c") once you get into the various letter combinations, I am never sure how to explain things. Is it "ea" like "sea" or like "measure"? How about "oo"? "Soon" or "book"? And do not even get me started on "ough". Also, can I talk about letters? Is that confusing? Are we allowed to use that word or do we just refer to "sounds"? Is there still spelling? Hey kid, just give me that book and I'll read it for you! Won't that be fun?!

The school is lucky to have me.

At home, we have started reading longer chapter books aloud to M, things like Mary Poppins and The BFG. (Side note: Wow, the book Mary Poppins is super cranky; Julie Andrews did not adequately prepare me for her.)  This is a vast improvement on endless re-readings of short stories, many of which are lovely, but any story is boring after 42 times. In one day.  

O will listen in occasionally, but his attention span is nowhere near long enough to sit through a book without pictures. He prefers books with animal photos, so you can stop on each page to make the associated noises. So cute, right? Also, annoying! There is nothing like moo-ing every sentence to break up a good narrative.

"'The runaway train choo-chooed down the tracks.' Yes, O, that's a cow. Moo. Good job. 'Duffy Driver raced after...' Yep, the sheep says baaa. Excellent. 'raced after the runaway tr...' Quack."

At least he isn't asking me about fahniks.

Overall, it's a lot of fun to watch as your kid starts learning to read, knowing it's going to open up a whole new world for them. The difficulty at this age is getting them to concentrate on homework (usually one book per week) when they've had a long day and would much prefer to be zoning out with some television coloring. To which I say, fair enough. If I came back from a long day at work and someone handed me a calculus book and forced me to start doing whatever it is you do with calculus (calculate?), I'd probably have to club them over the head with the text, before grabbing my wine glass and running away.

Tonight we'll take a break from the homework stuff and carry on with our own reading, M and O curled up on the couch together, listening to what that cranky Mary Poppins has done now. Also, moo.

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