Tuesday, April 2, 2013

How did I get her to that reading level?

Honestly, I think a lot of it is just "her" - once she learned to read pretty fluently - around age 4 - she just didn't stop. She just loves books. I love them, too, but I fall asleep no matter how interesting it is. My Dad was verrrrrry much the same way as Jillian - i think a lot of it is genes. Because we didn't push her. At all. I basically just checked out whatever books she was interested in, in whatever topic, and let her go...when she was learning to read, we didn't "give her the answer" too quickly - really made her sounds something out. I also think that her ability to read at this level has a lot to do with her desire to acquire more ideas for creative expression. As odd as that might sound, I guess what I'm saying is, books feed her creative side - painting, story-writing, playing...AND, I think that there being an owl in HP is a little bonus, too :) Additional point: let her read whatever - if they like it, they will read, and will want to read more...and the more they read - even if it's the same thing/type of thing over and over, it BUILDS CONFIDENCE. More confidence = good!!!! Jillian flew through the Magic Treehouse Books when she was 5, as well as the Rainbow Fairy series (the latter has a VERY obvious format in each story...so much that I think it eventually just bored the heck outta Jillian...BUT - I'm sure that in the beginning, it helped with her confidence, which resulted in her reading more). I'm not saying, though, that because I haven't pushed her, I haven't done anything: if there's something that interests her, I have always encouraged her to talk to the librarians and get them to point her in the right direction. And Ofilia (as I'm sure you know) at the Wylie library - is an AMAZING resource. Ms. Dia as well. And Debbie. They'll find things that have to do with her interest, but then also pull things that she *might* be interested in trying out. The ability to do the latter has very much to do with them knowing Jillian, her ability, and the fact that Jillian knows that they've successfully picked some "gems" for her in the past (i.e. - Babymouse books - a graphic novel series - that Ofilia suggested when Jillian started exploring some other books in that genre).

 Overall, though, I go back to it being Jillian. She loves coffee table books, nonfiction stuff, my Family Fun magazines, A-N-Y-T-H-I-N-G. She'll read Everett's books! I've said it so many times before, but reading is like breathing to her...it's just in her nature. Neither one of us is like that...but I guess it's almost like a talent/natural ability that we saw early on and just went with it, nurtured it, and here we are. . . . I don't know that I would even try to aim for getting a young child at such a high level. It's not necessarily an easy line to walk...just encourage the joy of reading. Poetry, comics, picture books, novels, non-fiction. Whatever. The result is creativity, new ideas, ability to figure out meaning within the context of a sentence, the list goes on and on... And, as difficult as it is to NOT do, comparing one child's ability in a certain aspect to another child's ability is tricky, b/c you never know what things YOUR child can do "better" than the next...ya know? There are lots of things that Jillian has trouble with, that the next kiddo might not think twice about.

Sorry for the ridiculously long answer - it may not have even been helpful - they're just my thoughts...on something that I still often have trouble wrapping my own brain around! If it weren't for the fact that Jillian has consistently expressed the desire to become a fashion designer (to create costumes), I would've totally thought that she would pursue a career in reading/editing/writing (and she LOVES when they do grammar editing in school!). But who knows... let it be, don't force any particular books, if she's uninterested in a book and wants to stop, let her move on to something that DOES interest her (unless it's for school, of course)! It's something to be nurtured just as one would nurture any other talent. Because, now that I'm thinking about it (and typing as I think), I guess it's kinda like what I was saying earlier: there's a certain element of natural ability/talent. So, if your child could play piano amazingly well, pick up on the relationship between notes, chords, and basically "get it," and then keep getting it, continuing to consistently feed that desire, almost to the point where they NEED it...I might ask you, "anything that helped to get her to that piano playing level?" It's just hard to explain. And it boils down to the interplay between ability and desire. If you're already very capable of something, but don't enjoy it, or, don't enjoy it enough to do it ALL the time, you'll still be good at it, probably enjoy it whenever the desire to do that thing strikes...but the internal drive to KEEP doing it, to KEEP practicing - as a musician or gymnast or seamstress (!) might - that's just something that can't be forced.

Similarly, as much as we've offered "Word World" to Everett, he just doesn't enjoy it the way Jillian did. She LOVED learning about how the letters make different sounds, came together to form words, and that each word had a meaning, that was subsequently used in a sentence. Does it mean Everett doesn't have the same ability as Jillian, in terms of reading? Not necessarily. He may very well have the same ability...but will it be tapped into as early as it was with Jillian? Probably not. But can we and should we still encourage and nurture something so important, that may prove to be something he's just as passionate about, at a (relatively) later point in the future? Of course! All of that to say: you never know what will work with each kid. Support and facilitate the things they love; help them appreciate the things that might be harder to love. The things they are less passionate about and more hesitant to take on could have to do with more of a struggle, or maybe just a lack of interest; or maybe the struggle results in a lack of interest. Bottom line: they're all wired differently. What might work for one child may not work for another. They all have different genes, different environments, influences, the list goes on and on...play on their strengths and use those things to help in developing other areas. Example: when Jillian was 3, she LOVED playing Memory. She loved books and the desire to read was beginning. I created a "Sight Word Memory Game" that was alllll the fun of Memory, but using sight words. :) That might not work on another kid...but it totally worked for Jillian! It got the ball rolling with sight words and she wanted to play it all of time. Played on her own, tried to make sentences with the words. Recognized the words in her books. And that's where she might differ from another child. One child might love "Sight Word Memory" because they love Memory, but they might not take it further than wanting to play a couple of times with Mommy, let alone do all the other stuff on her own! Again, I'm certainly not saying I didn't do ANYthing, but I also didn't have to force anything. I've tried my best to encourage, question what she loves about this or that book, what she wants to read more about, and then do my best to facilitate. I try not to make her feel like any part of her self-worth has anything to do with how well she reads; rather, it's just one, small part of who she is, and that that person - all aspects of her - are what make her so awesome and special. :)

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