I have an above average child. She spoke early, she wrote early. She draws with detail. And she’s an absolute WHIZ at math. And while she loves being read to, reading is not a strong suit or a pleasure for her.
This is our first year of “real” school, 1st grade. My husband and I went back and forth on homeschool versus public school—ultimately deciding we’d give her a year and see if public school would be beneficial for her or not. To be honest, I’m not a fan of where the school system is headed. As a daughter of two educators and daughter-in-law to another, I know where most teachers’ hearts lie, but I also know where their hands are bound. So please don’t read this as teacher bashing. Our teacher has been SUCH a delight, encourager, and help in our struggle to read and enjoy reading.
The other night, just like every other, I sent our eldest to bed with a book to “read” while she waited for a grown up to tuck her in and read a chapter in our book (we’re huge fans of read aloud). When I got back to her room, I stepped in, unseen, to witness her cross legged on the bed, book in her lap, and tears streaming down her face. Immediately my heart clenched in my chest. I climbed in bed next to her and asked her what was going on. She choked out, “Mom, I just feel so dumb when I try to read!” I drew her into the tightest hug being sure to tell her how very smart she is.
Y’all, we are a book loving family, we read aloud ALL the time. We love Sarah Mackenzie over at Read Aloud Revival. This girl loves stories, she loves imagining all the things, she hates not being good at something. But here’s the thing, our school system is failing our children. We’re obsessed with test scores and levels, and preparing for the next, NEXT grade instead of focusing on what we should be capable of in THIS grade. We pressure all kids to progress at the exact same time. Her school has reading levels displayed in each classroom. She can see she’s on a level six while Johnny, Kate, and Ella are all on level 10, and Fred is on a level 16. Did you know that most children don’t have the developmental capacities to read until closer to seven and eight???
You remember back when your baby was in their first year and you had a chart of milestones? Some kids walk at 10 months, some at 15? This is still the case guys! Instead of being able to nurture the love of reading in age appropriate stages, our school is shaming children who aren’t there yet because it looks better for their test scores which in turn determines funding, blah, blah, blah. There is something fundamentally wrong here. Don’t even get me started on AR reading and what that does to the love of reading.
So here I am, with a bright child sobbing in my arms because reading isn’t easy for her—yet. Maybe it’s something more (dyslexia, mimicked dyslexia, or even stealth dyslexia), maybe not, but we will find out. Here’s the thing, despite pressure from school, I’m not really pressing HER to read. Research has more than proved that children that are read to have astronomical benefits! As a matter of fact, their reading comprehension is usually twice that of a child (in early stages) that has read only to themselves. So we will continue our read aloud hour at home, we will continue to read both picture books and chapter books to the kids for bedtime. And if and when reading clicks for her, we will celebrate! Meanwhile, we will scour the library for age appropriate books in her interest wheel, we will encourage her in a judgment-free environment, and we will celebrate every success as it comes.
And even though reading hurts right now, we pray that one day she’ll be the biggest bookworm you know!
*I want to give an extra shout out to my daughter’s teacher who has not only encouraged HER, but makes sure to keep me appraised of every win she has! Her teacher has been such an extra blessing to us this year as we navigate our first year of school in the public school system. I am forever grateful for her love for my child and her constant cheerleading!