I am so excited about Storyteller’s new milestone that I just have to share what has been happening these last few weeks! We started formal reading lessons about 1 ½ years ago at the beginning of her kindergarten year so she’s been “reading” for some time now. But something clicked recently and she began actually reading! And yes, I’ve learned that there is a difference between the two stages.
Up until now, she has rarely wanted to read outside of her formal reading lessons. We actually call it a game which has helped encourage her to play. We used the first level of All About Reading for kindergarten. It was a struggle for most of the year. It took her close to 12 months to complete it. Part of the problem was consistency. It really helps to do short 20 minute sessions several times a week. We were lucky if we did a reading lesson 3 times a week and there were plenty of weeks when we only brought it out once or twice. I had a problem being consistent because she just didn’t want to do it most of the time. Luckily, All About Learning Press (the makers of AAR) have many tips for overcoming all of the obstacles we encountered. I think we used all of the tips since what worked changed almost every week! Looking back on the struggles we had, I probably should have put it aside for a bit. Or I should have made a stronger commitment to do it at least four days a week.
Now Storyteller is more than half way done with 1st grade. We’ve continued with All About Reading since we finished level 1 on a positive note. I really enjoy the program and she was doing well with it by the end of her kindergarten year even though it was a long and sometimes tough process. This year the reading lessons have been going far more smoothly.
We were about half way through level 2 of AAR when something clicked a few weeks ago. I’m not sure exactly why or how but she just started picking up books and reading them. When she came across a word she didn’t know she would often figure it out through the context of the story or the pictures. She often remembered it throughout the book and even when she encountered it days later in a different book. She is just starting to learn vowel teams and many of these words have vowel combinations that she hasn’t learned yet.
Up until this point, she would take 3-4 days to get through a reading lesson. AAR recommends doing 20 minutes a day and stopping even if the lesson isn’t completed. You just pick up the next day where you left off. Level 2 is broken into 57 lessons so the program is definitely not designed with the intent of getting through a whole lesson each day. Now that something has ignited the spark of reading for her, she is sailing through these lessons in half the time. I can see the pace quickening even more when we get to lessons that introduce sounds that she is learning on her own.
I tried encouraging her to read stories outside of the reading lessons but we weren’t successful. I often became frustrated at the library when I tried to find early reader books particularly ones with her favorite cartoon characters. The stories that come with AAR are interesting, fun, challenging and yet fully decodable. I spent so much time looking through the early readers at the library and each time I walked away disappointed. They are just so lame. The sentences and stories are much shorter than what she is reading in her lessons but the words contain many sounds (particularly vowel teams) that she hasn’t learned. I would have to walk her through more than half of the words. I don’t mind feeding her a few words but it just seemed like too many. I stopped trying to find extra books for her to read.
One of the first books she read by her own initiative was one that I said had too many new sounds that she hadn’t learned yet. She wanted to read it anyway. I was so surprised at how fast she figured out the new sounds without much, if any, help from me. Now, she picks up many of the books we bring home from the library even if they’re not the early readers. She loves reading to her little sister!
She’s been reading for 1 ½ years through AAR but this is the first time that she’s actually wanted to read outside of the lessons. She is figuring out words based on the context of the story and remembering new sounds that she is learning through this process. This is the difference between reading to get through the lessons and actually reading! What an exciting time it has been for us to witness this milestone!