Today was my last day at St. Andrews and I had the pleasure of helping 2 first graders read some of their favorite picture books. One of the girls could read very well, she only stumbled on large words and mispronounced words like though (thinking it was thought) and busy (calling it bus-ee because she saw the word bus in it). The other emerging reader, could not read very well at all, and while she referred to herself as a good reader, she did not display any confidence in her abilities. In the beginning, the other reader kept correcting her mistakes, and it was clear that she was discouraged so I offered to read to her, and she said no, took the book out of my hand and closed it. She then, flopped down onto the floor and covered her face, so I tried again and again, then I gave up. I decided that I would just let her do what she wanted, and gave my attention to the good reader. Soon enough, I picked a book that she liked and she wanted to read, and I will admit that I have never seen a child struggle to read like I did today. She did not know small words, she did not know how to break words into syllables, nor did she know how to relate the words back to the picture. Some children read books by looking at pictures and making up their own stories in accordance with the pictures, but she either could not or refused to do this. Even in the midst of not being able to read one full sentence, she would still say, “I’m a good reader,” an admirable trait if you ask me. However, I began to realize the frustration parents and teachers must feel sometimes in trying to teach a child, and for someone who has very little patience, I am proud of myself for remaining calm. I really wanted to know why the child could not recognize words like is, then, than or the difference in vowel sounds between words that look alike, as compared to her counterpart. The good reader even knew when to change intonation, according to the punctuation, I was very impressed. Reading has many parts, 2 key ones being word identification, and use of intonation (changing inflection etc.) to read the story. The dear child could not identify the words, and when she did, she did not pause at the commas, or change her inflection when she saw a question mark. Maybe I am just comparing her to her classmate too much, I cannot be sure.
I have a brother that doesn’t read very well, and that’s because he has dyslexia so of course I began to wonder what was going on with my struggling reader, did she have dyslexia too? That’s when I decided to do picture walks with her, and we made up some stories and ignored the words on the pages. I was afraid that I was not very helpful, and that constantly correcting her may have negative repercussions, so I stopped. Maybe I should’ve been tougher, I know if she were my child, I would have pushed her more, like my mother did me.