Thursday, October 17, 2013

If you give a girl a book,

she's going to finish reading it.

And chances are if she finishes reading that book, she's going to ask for another...and another.

This Thoughtful Thursday discussion was inspired by a very personal post from my good friend April over at Sim~Sational~Books.  (Oh, and If You Give a Mouse a Cookie by Laura Joffe Numeroff. :D) You might know her from her awesome SIMS-based book trailers, but we connected because we both have five-year-old daughters who just recently started kindergarten this year.

Y'all, kindergarten is HARD.  Like April said in her post, I remember when all we did in kindergarten was color or go to stations (like blocks or kitchen or something FUN) or play outside.  But these days, kindergarten is like what first grade was for us.  Before they even start, they're supposed to already know their alphabet and how to count to twenty and all the stuff that we worked on in kindergarten back in my day.

Something else they're working on already that we didn't even contemplate until first grade is reading. Starting on October 1st -- after all of us parents were submitted to a very brief intro to the program via a parent-teacher meeting -- the kindergarten classes at Katie's school began bringing home a purple folder with required reading books in them.  Books that they apparently aren't going to go over in class.  I understand that parents need to be involved in their children's education, but isn't our job to help our kids on top of what they're learning in class, not in lieu of what they're not being taught?

I'm trying to garner an appreciation for reading in my little girl, and so far, it's been going great.  There are some books we've read together so many times that she knows them by heart and she reads them to me now.  But that also makes me worry that she's just memorizing things and not really comprehending them as she's reading.  And there is a big difference between reading what you've already memorized and reading for comprehension.  I try to get her to tell me what words are by pointing at them and not letting her read the sentence that they're in, just to see if she recognizes the word, and it's proving difficult for her.

As is the homework that was sent home last night. She was given this list of words you see to the right, and only three of them were previous Word Wall Words, meaning she had only been taught those words in class.  The others were foreign to her.  And now I'm supposed to teach them to her.  I'm a terrible teacher.  I was a great student, but I have never been able to pass that on to anyone else.  I tried providing tutoring when I was in high school, and that didn't last long.  I'm going to try some of my old studying methods for UIL Spelling with Katie:  word pyramids, writing each word three times each, writing each letter of the word in a different color, etc.  Just things that helped me remember, things that I hope will help her remember, too.  Even if I do think it's too early for all of this.  I mean, I get it...we want our children to be able to compete at the same level intellectually as children in other countries.  We want our kids to have all of the best opportunities.  But I still want my kid to enjoy her childhood.  It only lasts so long, and then you're a grown-up with all kinds of responsibilities, wishing you could go back and be a kid again.

I want Katie to want to read, to love going to the library or bookstore and trying to make up a haul as big as her mommy's.  Soon enough, she'll be forced to read boring books that take all the fun out of reading. Honestly, though, in this respect, I'm glad I had a little girl; it does seem like a lot of boys tend to outgrow a love of reading much sooner than girls do, if it ever comes to that.  But it's because they're forced to read stuff in these formative years that isn't fun, or at the very least, isn't presented in a fun way.  I'm not saying school should always be fun or that the stodgy old classics should be done away with, but there are ways to make it interesting and make the learning experience fun and easier on everyone involved.  And that's part of the reason that I hate this new reading program, or at least the fact that it's an at-home program.  My sister said she read a study that said at this age, the average kid reads approximately ten minutes in class, per day.  Really?  I'm okay with the twenty minutes they're supposed to spend reading at home...we did that every night anyway with her bedtime stories before she even started school.  But if they're not even spending that long reading at school, why am I sending her there, besides the fact that I have to work and can't home school her?  (I so would if I could.)

Huh.  I did not expect this post to get so ranty...I guess I'm a little more worked up than I thought.  It's just that things have really changed since I was in school, and kindergarten is proving a lot more stressful than I imagined it to be.  I'm so glad to have a friend like April who's going through the same stuff so we can vent to each other.  We just want our girls to love reading as much as we do!  No pressure, kids...but you know how awesome it is to have someone else to share your books with.  I just want Katie to be the next in line to read all of mine.  =)  And so, I'll keep reading with her and working with her on those damn Word Wall Words and reading some more.

Oh, and I think frequent trips to the library and bookstore should help, right?  ;0)


  1. The pictures of your daughter are so cute!

    I know in my Kindergarten we were already supposed to know how to write our name before we started the year. I didn't go to pre-school, so I was the only one who didn't know how to write her name and I had to miss nap time so my teacher could work on it with me privately!

    I am sure your daughter will do amazing in Kindergarten, and from the pictures it looks like she likes to read :)

  2. Aww, so precious. I have a first grader who just started reading on his own. I'm surprised, actually, that he took to reading like a duck in the water. He just asked to read with him a couple of times and then started going solo. Now, he can't get enough. :)

    This is such a wonderful post, Jen. Thanks for sharing!

  3. cosign! i really think they could slow it down a smidgen. and don't get me started on the standardized testing. oh lawd! but our kiddos will do great. they are too legit to quit. :P

  4. Trips to the library and bookstore will definitely help, as well as you reading with her AND Katie's just seeing your love for reading. That's what did it for me. :)

    Wendy @ The Midnight Garden

  5. Wow, this is really different than it was for me in Kindergarten as well o.O No one could read. No one was expected to. By the second year of Kidnergarten, when the kids are 6, most of us could write our names and count a bit. Learning the alphabet etc. was part of the first year of school! I think the first time I picked up a book to read by myself was either late in first grade or some time in second grade. But this is Switzerland, and they're changing the school system around all the time these days (trying to harmonize the 20 or so systems because every Kanton has their own one).
    I also think it's strange that you have to teach your daughter on top of everything o.O Shouldn't Kindergarten be about learning to get on with other kids, learn some social norms, and play or maybe learn some stuff (for example about animals or plants) while playing?
    Like you, I think that on the one hand it's cool if kids can read early but for some of them who have a hard time with it and parents that don't have the time or know-how to help them, it might put the off reading all the sooner.
    I'm glad your daughter is having fun with it! She's so cute ^^

  6. First of all, your daughter is so cute! Secondly, that's ridiculous. I actually never went to kindergarten (homeschool, yo), but even I know that was never the norm. Seems like to big of an expectation and they're already turning on the sucking machine to suck the fun out of learning and reading. I completely understand how hard it would be for a parent to teach, but I know you'll be a great 2nd teacher to her :) Hopefully, the school system will improve though. Smh.

  7. She's so cute. My daughter loves to read. She's in the highest level reading group in her class. Makes me feel proud. :)

  8. I love this post so much, ranty or not. lol. Katie is adorable.

    You know I agree with you on every point you bring up. I'm so glad we have each other to vent to when things get frustrating. <3 you!

    Aubrey came home with a sheet of pictures she drew today. I was so amazed, she had written out the word shark. Not that she did that all on her own or anything, but it's just weird because in kindergarten I don't even think i could write the letter S yet. lol. Her shark looked like a dildo though. ha!

  9. I find it really fascinating, how children learn to read. Like you mentioned, where do you start drawing the line between possibly memorising the words or actually reading and comprehending them? I think it's great that you're so invested in helping your daughter to learn to read, and are doing your best to instill in her a love of books at such an early age.

  10. I can definitely understand that you don't want your daughter to not like reading because school asks so much of her. My kindergarten and elementary school were great and really stimulated me to read in a good way which made me love books. In high school however there were four years I just didn't read anymore besides the books that school made me read. Those books were so boring and I totally forgot how amazing you can feel after reading a great book. I think it's so sad that a lot of schools only focus on getting things done and not on how they get things done or how it will effect kids afters it's being done.


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