Friday, June 4, 2010

I can read good

After dropping Cameron off at daycare this morning I heard a sponsorship announcement on NPR for an organization committed to teaching children to read by the end of third grade. I attempted to Google this organization but couldn't remember the name so I failed. Regardless, it got me thinking about the standards for reading today in schools.

When my sisters and I were in first grade we were put in a remedial reading class. The reason? At 6 years old we couldn't read fluently and as such were "behind the curve." We were physically as well but I'll save the Special Gym story for another time. In my day (jeesh, I sound old!) kids were expected to start elementary school knowing how to read. Today? Not so much. Despite an emphasis on reading early and often to babies and toddlers most school systems don't expect fluent reading and writing until the third grade.

Because reading is so important to me I want Cameron to be able to read at an early age. My expectations are not unrealistic (I hope). I would like her to know how to read before she starts first grade. We actually made a breakthrough a few weeks ago. No, I did not run out and buy the Your Baby Can Read system that has infomercials on early in the morning. Personally I think it's a scam. But I digress. Our breakthrough is that Cameron has finally learned to sit on our laps while we read to her. Before Cameron would have the attention span of one or two pages. Then she would grab the book and throw it to the floor. Or, when we weren't reading a board book, she would try to rip the pages in half.

It's been a nice change to sit with her on the floor or the couch or her rocking chair while reading the same book over and over again. Her current favorite is Sesame Street's "Everybody Dance!" The book is short and rhymes. Plus it is a board book and each page has a 1/2 page that can be flipped back and forth to show the characters "dancing." I think I had to read that book 3 times last night before Cameron pointed to bed.

For parents with older children what have you done to help progress the reading learning process? And any recommendations for books you think Cameron would enjoy? Or more importantly, books that won't annoy the crap out of me and DH when we have to read them again and again and again?


LauraC said...

I think reading with your child is the best thing you can do! Which books to read is very personal... we check things out at the library and if we like it enough, we buy it.

Not that I should ever recommend tv to children, but once they got older (3ish), my boys LOVED the Leap Frog Letter Factory DVD. I am 100% convinced that is how they learned the sounds of each letter. There is a catchy tune they play over and over (my understanding is a lot of research went into the creation of it) that teaches them the sound each letter makes. It's the same song the toys make but on the show, it shows them the upper case and lower case version.

As for when they can read, again I think that's a milestone out of your hands. The lightbulb went off for Nate already and he can spell and sound out words. The lightbulb is still off for Alex.

T. said...

Third grade is absolutely shocking and sad too!! What books to you recommend for very little ones? (less than 6 months) I'd like to establish that routine early, even if she really has no idea what's going on.

A. said...

I think with all the standardized testing that is done now (starts as early as second grade, I believe), they actually push reading much earlier, starting in kindergarten. I wouldn't worry to much, just be cognizent of different opportunities to help Cameron along, and encourage whatever her daycare/preschool is focusing on skill-wise.

For Finn, letter identification has been easy, and he is even getting pretty good at writing most letters himself. Learning the letter sounds has been much harder for him. I may have to try out that Leap Frog Letter Factory DVD that Laura recommended. But I'm sure each child has different strengths and weaknesses in this area, and you'll need to figure out what Cameron's are.

T., the best books are those with a few big words and bright pictures on each page. Doesn't even have to be a story - books with pictures of different objects and their names are great (usually they have themes, like colors, body parts, etc). And I'm sure you've heard that all Sandra Boynton books are great for the infant set. I've never met a baby that didn't like the Belly Button Book :-).

still waiting said...

So glad to read about the stage Cameron is at with reading. My Ellie 10.5 months does the same thing... two pages and she's tossing the book on the floor. The only book we can get through right now is good night moon.

She is starting to point to things on the pages although she has no idea what they are.

As for books? Not really sure, Ellie really likes the touch and feel books right now. There is one in particular which is meant for feet (little feet love) but it's more for an activity book vs. reading.

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Anonymous said...

One all-time favorite of ours is "Make Way for Ducklings"--the rhyming duck names are fun. Also, of course, the Cat in the Hat series. . .love, Mimi

jerseygirl77 said...

Stacey, what you heard about is part of No Child Left Behind, and I think you might have misunderstood. They want all kids reading *on grade level* by the end of grade 3. You can read a bit about it here if you scroll down to the subheader "Reading First."

The truth is that the focus in schools is on an "academic kindergarten." So kids are covering a lot more material (including reading skills) in K than ever before.

Cameron will learn to read in her own time. The best way parents can help their kids is to read to them every day, working up to at least 15 minutes a day (when they can developmentally handle that amount of time). That's straight from a grad school prof of mine, in a class on literacy development. :-)

jerseygirl77 said...

hmm, that link didn't post entirely. try again...

Stephanie said...

Hi Stacey,
Jesse loves the Sandra Boynton books. They're silly, but not stupid, so I don't mind reading them over and over. I'm not a huge fan of Dr. Suess (sp?), but he's also obsessed with the Dr. Suess ABC book. Anything with nursery rhymes in it, too, is good. Toddlers love rhymes. I can't tell you how many times I've said/read/sung "Three Blind Mice" in the last few months.

H said...

I read your post the other day on my Itouch and couldn't craft a quality response with all those little buttons. I'm sure you were wondering where my teacher wisdom was....

Much of what I would have said was said by Lori- so thanks, Lori.

Third grade is considered kind of the "end" of learning to read, and fourth grade is the beginning of what we call "reading to learn". That's why you hear a lot of emphasis towards those two grades.

I really doubt that it was expected that we entered Elementary school being able to read, and we certainly don't expect that now either. We obviously grew up in an affluent high achieving town and came from high achieving parents, so we did read young. There are kids in my Kindergarten classess that run the gammit- from what we refer to as a guided reading level of "A" to probably "H". What almost always ends up happening- typical kids catch up with the kids who appear to be advanced readers- those that read early, usually by second or third grade. It's like the playing field evens out. Reading early doesn't always make a big difference.

I don't think there is anything wrong with those Leapfrog, Leapster type programs, but I'm not sure they will make a huge difference for a kid down the road. Education is very cyclical-Right now we are in a big emphasis on Phonics and Phonemic Awareness. As a result, we have kids who read beautifully- are very "fluent", but their comprehension is horrific. By the time Cameron hits K in five years- yikes!-we may be on to another emphasis.

Your kid is already hardwired in a sense for their path towards reading- I do believe some of that hardwiring can be affected with a consistent reading time with mom and dad each night. I love the idea of the prgoression to your lap and turning the pages, etc.

So the moral of the story- buy lots of books, all different kinds, some with real photographs, or beautiful colors, shapes, numbers, go to the library, immerse her- and trade off with Jeremy as who reads to her each night. Eventually maybe you have different series that you both read to her.

Oh, and kids are NEVER too old to be read to- it's so important and such a great bonding time for kids and parents- all the way through elementary school!