Most things I’ve done as a parent I look back on and think I could have done better. That’s a depressing statement, but I believe if most parents are honest, they would say the same thing, and I think this because people refer to their first born as the trial and error kid, and they “do better” with the next ones. You can’t help but to learn as you go, so that certainly makes sense and really anyone who doesn’t think they could do better isn’t striving to be better, and I don’t have much patience for those types. There’s a buddhist saying that I’ll massacre here: A wise person sees wisdom everywhere, an ignorant person sees ignorance. The actual quote is far more eloquent, but my brain only seems to memorize iambic meter. Anyway, the one thing I can honestly and unabashedly say I did right from the get-go as a mother is to make my kids readers. Most young children love books, but my oldest did not. As an infant he only liked tearing catalogs and magazines and refused to sit through the simplest of books. The pictures were far less interesting than real life to him and it truly bothered me that he was not interested in books. Soon after his first birthday I managed to get his interest with books about vehicles, but not the same books over and over again as most young ones do, so I started looking through our King County library system and putting on hold every child’s book with trucks, cars, construction, or fire trucks in the keyword search. Once I had gone through all of those (and I do mean ALL of them) I expanded the search words to tools, workers, planes, etc. That little toddler started to get hooked. Pretty soon I was searching books about dogs, space, robots, and more, and he was interested in it all. A reader was in the making. That was not the end of our struggles though as he was not the type to immediately except the alphabet nor did the typical teaching in preschool or kindergarten suit him, so I took him to an extra pre-reading class that had a lot of music and movement attached to the letters and that is where he finally learned the alphabet. Reading did not spontaneously happen though, and we had many arguments over reading through the end of first grade. While he still insisted on reading simple books I started getting chapter books on CD for driving in the car. It worked. They both love hearing stories in the car, it keeps them focused on something besides each other, and I appreciate having a book read aloud to them that I don’t have to do because my throat does not allow me to read out loud very long. I sometimes have to pause books and explain things, which is a wonderful way to increase their vocabulary and comprehension skills. By the end of first grade my oldest was quite a good reader and his first chapter books were to reread the books we had listened to in the car, which happened to be the Magic Treehouse series. Now he is in third grade and absolutely loves to read. It’s his favorite subject in school, tied with PE, and he often reads one to two hours a night, purely out of the sheer joy of it. My younger son is on the same path though his way was less bumpy so seemed less dramatic. He did have a little trouble with the way reading is taught in schools too though and I had to teach him myself, which luckily I had done before in schools so I really do count myself very fortunate. It seems like the schools are missing a step between learning letters and actual reading but I guess it clicks for most at some point.
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