Wednesday, July 31, 2013

I Before E

Being a teacher, David had a totally ridiculous grand plan that Morgan needed to be reading before kindergarten started. Yes, you read that correctly, before kindergarten started. Because the goal should be that she has already mastered all of the key skills over the summer so that she is bored and unruly the entire school year. Her teachers will love that.

Unfortunately, one thing that my daughter does not do well is perform under pressure. Every time David would try to sit down and work on sounding out words or learning more about consonant blends, Morgan would push back from the table, declare "learning time" over, and make a mad dash for the backyard. We needed a new plan.

I decided to try three things. One, I would try to make reading more of a game and less of a chore. Two, I would wait until she was a captive audience and wouldn't be distracted by the lure of the outdoors. Three, I would bribe her with promises of 20 minutes of TV if she finished the entire exercise. 

The game appeared to be simple enough. I wrote a series of words on the bathtub wall for Morgan to sound out during her bath. As she correctly identified the word, she got to cross it off the list. If she finished the entire list before her bath ended, she earned one more episode of My Little Pony before bed. 

Here's the problem. The English language can be a real asshole. We have blends, we have long vowel sounds, and short vowel sounds. We have letters that are silent, we have letters that make more than one sound, and we have exceptions to almost every rule of grammar. Oh yeah, and I am not a teacher. Needless to say, Morgan was extremely nervous about my plan.

But we powered through. I had thrown in a few sight words for her, knowing she would cross those off quickly and potentially build her confidence. And she did, and she was so proud.

She finished the entire list. Her little fingers looked like prunes and we had long since run out of hot water. But she's one step closer to reading and I am that much more grateful for the teachers and opportunities that lie ahead for my daughter as she starts school. To all of my teacher friends, enjoy these last few weeks of summer- it's kids like mine who are about to give you a run for your money.

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