Thursday, January 11, 2007

Tickled Pink

Guess what - Sweet Pea is READING! She and I are both SO excited.

We started teaching her letters as soon as she could speak. We've been going over the sounds letters make for probably longer than a year. We started with her blocks - Slipshod and I would playfully quiz her on what letters she saw on the blocks we held up while we stacked them, etc. Ever since we bought the ABC box from our friend Lynda, Sweet Pea has been even more into letters, learning what the lower case looks like of each, and looking at and saying the names of the pictures each book shows of words that start with each letter. There was a period of time last year when she would sit and go through the entire box at once, reading every letter and picture to anyone who would listen: Me, my sister who was visiting from out of state, her favorite fishie squirt toy, you name it. We have also made use (and continue to) of a lot of the wonderful games on Noggin's website, especially the Maisy block game, which teaches the sounds that letters make. Sweet Pea and I used to play that a lot when we lived in San Jose.

And I've been reading to Sweet Pea just about every day (often for half a day because she used to want to read each book over and over and over ad nauseum) since she was younger than The Bug is now. She loves to be read to (who doesn't?), likes to write words when I tell her how to spell them, and for a few months has been telling me that she wants to learn how to read. I hadn't yet looked into any sort of teaching guide for reading, but I mentioned the situation to my sister who is a teacher, and she got SO excited and sent us the first set of Bob Books to borrow.

They arrived with the girls' Christmas presents from my sister but due to the hubub of the holidays, Sweet Pea and I didn't sit down with the books until yesterday evening. She was very interested in learning the sounds that the first book used, and in learning how to sound out words, though I was having a difficult time explaining to her what I meant when I said, "sound it out - good - now do that faster." She was like "how do I sound it out faster?"

Sleeping on it seems to have made everything sink in a little more, though, so that today when she asked to read the Bob Books after breakfast, she was quicker at sounding out. She was also interested for longer, and managed to read the first two little books herself by sounding out the words!

I cannot fully express my excitement about this. Really. My mom says that she taught all of us to read before we went to school but I don't remember knowing how before then, because I distinctly remember being horrified that I didn't know how to spell 3-letter words as early as some of the other kids. Though I guess I could have known how to read without paying enough attention to learn how to spell. They are different skills... hm.

ANYWAY - being the youngest in my family (thereby never seeing anyone younger than me learn to read) and never having taught anyone to read before, I had no idea you could teach a 3 1/2-year-old with instant success. I am STOKED. As with all things I am sure that Sweet Pea's interest in reading will wax and wane, but this is a very exciting start and with each page she tells me that she really wants to learn how to read, and that she's excited to be learning. I can clearly see how thrilled she is each time she figures out a word and then reads a 2, 3, or 4-word sentence after having sounded out each of the words in turn.

Of course, this means we're headed toward the days when Slipshod and I can't spell to each other without her knowing what we're talking about - and our very basic sign language is already useless for that too, since we learned it for HER, in order to help her be able to communicate with us before she could speak - but oh well, maybe by the time she can understand everything we're spelling we'll have better skills at signing when she's not looking, or we'll get walkie talkies implanted in our brains... ha ha ha! Okay, we'll just have to suck it up and deal, and learn how to talk when she's not around if there's something she shouldn't hear.

But anyway... isn't this the coolest? The reading cut into The Bug's naptime (though if she had stayed asleep the first time she would have been fine, dammit) and I still haven't had a shower today - but it was all totally worth it to help Sweet Pea take these first steps toward a new exciting learning discovery!

** Note: After sharing this new excitement with my sister she pointed out that the Bob Books are VERY simple, so it's no great wonder that Sweet Pea was able to get through the first two books so easily. It's true, the books ARE very simple, specifically designed for ease of learning as you might expect. Each has only 5 or 6 pages and each page has anywhere from 1 to 4 words on it. No word is longer than 3 letters. Sweet Pea is not reading encylopedias yet. I'm just completely excited that she can sound these words out so easily, and although these books are super simple, this is a BIG first step for her! My sister's comment sort of made me feel like I shouldn't be so excited, but you know what, I am. I am. This is huge. **


dana said...

Congratulations on the reading! That's amazing! And awesome!

Stahl family said...

AWESOME!!! Nevermind that they are simple books! What's important is that Sweet Pea FEELS successful. The guaranteed road to success starts with success! You can quote me on that! HAHAHA

Jayden often asks what the words are, but at this point does not show much inclination to sound them out.

Christina said...

That is awesome! Not many 3 1/2 year olds can read, so that is a big success!

Cordy loves numbers, but so far has shown little interest in letters.