We believe every kid has their own rhythm, and while in certain areas we drag them along, we inch them forwards, we also slow down to let them find their pace and motivation.
Many years ago when our eldest had just started school we tried to help her count in Romanian. In English somehow she found it easier to count, but we live in Romania so that would be her primary language in school. At the time, she couldn’t fathom why you jump from 19 to 20. Or from 29 to 30. But because we read to her so much, she could read. Learning all the letters was like cementing the knowledge that was overflowing in her mind.
Fast forward four years. We didn’t push Ivy with anything because her passion for drawing and pretending to read and quiet demeanor made her seem like a nerd. She tries to be in our good graces and tries hard to anticipate her responsibilities and do them well. But school started for her two months ago. She is learning all the letters. A new one is introduced once a week. And start to have to recognize them in long lineups of confusing words. She is a lefty and sometimes she displays dysgraphia. She write in a mirror, not just some letters but her entire name. Or the numbers she write in a mirror. Again, we are not concerned about. She is brilliant and she will get a grip as she is exposed to school work.
But last week we did not practice any reading. And she forgot everything she learned. r and n and u are a jumble in her head. We can’t even begin to understand how stretched is their brain at this time. So many new shapes, and sounds. Learning to read in a few months? That’s wild. But we trust the system and their developmental age. My confusion by comparison is how much homework she has in order to keep up with school. I honestly thought that she will learn all these things in school, playing, repeating, saying the letters out loud through games and association. But here she comes with pages of words and she struggles like she is trying to read Chinese. And I am starting to get worried. Worried that I am not doing my part well. Parents are relied upon quite a bit at this stage, but kids are 6-7 years old. Parents are at work or have more kids. And I can’t see all the moms or dads tutoring daily their kids.
Anyway, here we were, trying to read 50 words on a page, and ivy whispered insecure about her task and fishing in the dark for nuggets of word memories. She was already so nervous that even if I would say that in that box there are only words with the letter n, she would still mumble r or u. Also, picking the right time to do homework is of importance. Kids and parents should not be hungry, have just arrived from town or have to pee. Homework is best done on a satisfied stomach, focused and rested. If at all possible.
I had tried a bit, then I sent conrad over so I would lose my patience completely. She was discouraged. I was discouraged. Then there was a night and a morning. The following day.
She asked: “do you think I’ll be ok reading in school today?” – well, you made an effort last night, more than you did all week at home. You practiced and you learned a few things. You did your part. Take a deep breath and try to focus on the page you are reading, and not worry about what others are doing.
When she got home, this lovely Friday afternoon, she said she wants to read more. First we ate lunch. The as she sat down she was tempted to lift her eyes to me for approval at every single letter to the point of losing her spot on the page. I used to say: “don’t look at me” but she kept lifting her eyes. I remember a trick of words. We tend to tell them what not to do, instead of rephrasing it to a positive command. So I practiced telling her what to do instead. Eventually she got it. She stopped looking up for affirmation at every letter and kept going. Speaking loudly and clearly (which was an issue the day before) and she read the whole page and more. Still stumbled a bit but corrected without skipping a bead and ket going. I was shocked. Who is this kid? How is it possible that yesterday we couldn’t read 3 words and she couldn’t even repeat after me without fumbling. And now she breezes through the page. I kept my cool but affirmed her impressive progress. She says to me: “oh, I prayed yesterday that I could read”. Ivy can move mountains with her prayers. Not the first time she turns to God and has the most brilliants conversations, persuasive, concise, clear, filled with belief. So I asked her “how did you pray?” curious of what exactly she asked God to do for her. But she answered with a sigh “well, I prayed with all my heart.” and that was it.