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Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The School Saga

Abby is a very good student, enthusiastic and school-loving, but she struggles with reading; she has all along. Since her whole family - mom, dad, stepdad, grandparents, aunts and uncles - are big readers, and her stepdad and I are writers as well, we find this a little baffling. She loves to read. She makes a jump in reading level every year around April. She's just not very fluent at it.

Fluency - in third-grade reading terms - is akin to fluidity... the ease with which she reads. She stumbles over words a lot, even words she should know because they are "sight words" and have been for awhile. They all stumble on laugh and tough, on thought and through. GH words suck. But she also has trouble with words like clock. Although dyslexia would not surprise me (she still has a little issue with bdpq and spelling) mostly this is because she's simply an auditory learner - her spoken vocabulary is ridiculously enormous (she uses phrases like "ridiculously enormous", for instance). Last year, in trying to sound out laughed, she went through words like lounged and languid, which surprised (but pleased) her teacher.

So she has the brains to read well, and the vocabulary and the desire. We just have to find the right method for teaching her. She's now in Title 1 reading help (she was last year too) and there are enough kids she knows in there with her that she feels no "special ed" stigma. She's not "disadvantaged" but she qualifies under "young children who need reading assistance". In an effort to help her more at home, we've also:
  1. Gone to the library and gotten (eight) books she wants to read and are either at her level or the next level up (per the librarian, who apparently hears this sort of thing often). These include things like the first two Bunnicula books, the first three Ivy and Bean books, and Trixie the Halloween Fairy.
  2. Made a place (the shelf by her school backpack) and a time (during homework time) for her "required twenty minutes of reading a day". Part of the problem is that she likes to read in bed, and then it would occasionally go by the wayside because the evening would get away from us and she has to sleep sometime.
  3. Promised that she will read her library books in the living/dining room and then put them right back on the shelf. These are special books; if she wants to read other places - and I will encourage this - like in bed, she can read one of the gazillion books she owns. And that's when she reads other books - like the Harry Potter she's so fond of but that are too hard for her.
  4. Looked at some other ways to make reading fun and useful. Having her read her own menus in restaurants. Getting her some reading games for her DS. Having her help me scan grocery labels for nuts, to which she is allergic. Like that.
In any case, we (Abby, her dad, grandma, stepdad and I) are working on it, the school is working on it, and when it comes time for her next physical exam, her doctor will be checking on it as well.
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Now - my school. This is the final week of my first session at the University of Phoenix. Four-year-old Lizzy explained to me today that my school is in my house and it's all on the computer, so she will be my recess teacher and make me go outside sometimes. Sounds like a plan.