Wednesday, July 15, 2009

One more reader in the house

Interest-led life learning means that we have never offered or forced Cutter into using a prescribed reading/spelling/writing curriculum. Sometimes we lapsed in our trust that he would learn on his own schedule and we would slip into the "sound it out" regime. This only ever ended in frustration, because honestly, if he knew how to sound it out, he would've already done so, right? Cutter was happy to have us read for him, happy to gather the story from comic book pictures, happy to listen to books on CD every night.

Every now and then, he would blurt out a word on a sign or in his video game and say, "I just guessed," but he was pretty firm in answering questions about reading with, "I can't read." I pondered this response, because he was clearly reading some, if not all, words he came across. One day a few months ago, I asked him if he thought being able to read meant you could read every word you come across and he said yes. I explained that even I, his "typewriter eyes" reader of a mom, couldn't read every word I came across and that's why I looked to the dictionary, to the internet, to his dad for help.

This seemed to give him more confidence and in the next few weeks, he held aloft his DS while playing Drawn to Life and said, "This game is really helping me to read." A few weeks later, he was playing Zelda The Twilight Princess and I was reading the dialogue, doing my voices as I've done the past 8 1/2 years, and he said, "Mom, I already read that." I readjusted my framework, told him he could just let me know if he needs my help with words. In the following weeks, he's snuggled on the couch next to me while we both read, said it's cool how reading let's him do so many new things, read information to a friend and asked for a dictionary so he can look up how to say words. And while on our trip, he picked up a book we'd started reading together and said, "I think I'll just keep reading this on my own at night. But you can still read it to me, mom, because I like the voice you do for the mouse."

He doesn't often ask for word help and he doesn't read anything below his interest level and I think that he's able to read so fluently, so suddenly, because it wasn't sudden at all. He's been surrounded with the passion of words for 8.5 years so now that his brain is ready to process those words on its own, he has quite a vocabulary ready in there.

And still, just last night after he was away for the day with friends, he came home, laid his head on my shoulder and asked me to read Jon Scieszka's Squids Will Be Squids to him, complete with voices.

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