Friday, April 11, 2014

More on the Reading Front...and Getting Siblings Involved

I feel like folding my hands behind my head, leaning back in a big arm chair, and taking the next decade off.  My job is done.  Matthew is reading and I've done my bit.  Maybe I'll invest a bit more time and effort here and there, but really, it's all over now.  I can relax.

Oh wait...I have two more to go.  I can't rest on my laurels just yet!

Seriously, though, it's going so well.  Matthew finished day 13 of his 21 day reading goal today and he's doing great.

Yesterday afternoon, hours after he'd finished his daily reading session, I was working in the kitchen when I was distracted by some quiet noise in the library.  I walked over to see what was going on and the sight so moved me that I sat down to watch silently for almost half an hour.  (Lizzie was having a quiet time, otherwise there would have been nothing silent about my presence there!)

Matthew and Seth were sharing an arm chair and Matt had my ipad on his lap (normally a no-no unless I've given it to him for a specific purpose, but I surely wasn't going to quibble on this occasion).  He was reading to Seth one of the animal paragraphs that I'd found for him a number of days before, and it looked like they'd been doing this for a little while already.  At the end of the reading, rather than answering the comprehension questions himself, Matthew read the questions and multiple choice answers out loud for Seth, one at a time, and told Seth that he needed to tell him what the correct answer was.  And Seth did!

A few stories later, one of the comprehension questions asked what kind of food pandas most liked to eat.  Matthew read the four possible answers out loud and then Seth asked him if he could point to the word bamboo in the story above.  Matthew found the word and pointed it out to Seth, and Seth proceeded to laboriously compare that word to the words in the multiple choice answers - eventually pointing to the right answer and saying that it had to be that answer because it had the word bamboo in it!  How awesome is that?  My little dude who can't read a word has clearly made some connections himself and was pumped to be answering the questions that Matthew put forward.  And Matthew got to transition from student to teacher...and did so beautifully.

Today, after he'd completed his reading for the day and I'd read out loud to the kids for over an hour, Matthew said that he wanted to read more out loud.  He asked Seth if he could read out loud to him.  Seth (who was very tired of sitting [relatively] still at this point) said that there was "no way" he'd be doing that...and then looked at me, and said, "unless Mom would be willing to give me two jelly beans for listening."  Crafty little munchkin, especially given that we don't often use reward systems in our home!

But still, when considering priorities...

"Done," I said, wishing I had a gavel to pound.  Two jelly beans (per kid, as it turned out!) is a pretty small price to pay for another 15-20 minutes of Matthew reading out loud.

So Seth plunked himself down beside Matthew and I handed Matthew something different to read - one of the Magic Treehouse books (which I think is around a grade 3 reading level).  The vocabulary of this book was easier than what he had been reading, but it added a new element to his reading: Conversation.  Matthew got to learn how quotation marks are used, that new paragraphs are started whenever someone else is speaking, and how to use voice inflection to suit the context and the person's speech.  He also got to understand for himself how a reader can distinguish between speakers in the conversation.  He was a little slower in his reading because of the new variables, but it was fantastic.

After he'd finished the first chapter (a whole chapter! side note: when Matthew last 'read', a couple of months ago, I tried him on Magic Treehouse and he stumbled and bumbled through three lines and it took him over ten minutes), he and Seth both asked if he could read another chapter for another two jelly beans.

"Done," I said again, pounding my fist on the arm chair this time.

Another chapter got read.

And another.

And another.

And he would have continued had we not needed to get ready for piano/music lessons.

Each kid got eight jelly beans for those four chapters; Matthew read 35-38 pages of a Magic Treehouse book over the course of about 45-50 minutes; and mama was very privately thrilled...and so was Matthew.

By the time all was said and done, we'd spent the entire morning in our library, had no time to make lunch before leaving for music and piano lessons, and so picked up Tim Horton's bagels for the road.



  1. Hi Ruth,

    This is awesome!!! How incredibly exciting!! And I love how M is experiencing the thrill of being both a student and a teacher.

    Question for you: I've just purchased an ipad (mostly for use in my piano studio) but I also plan on using it a bit with my kids for school. I'd love to hear some of your suggestions/ideas for apps that you've found useful with your kids.

    1. Thanks Leanne...yeah, it's exciting all right.

      I don't use my ipad a whole lot at this point for school stuff, though I'm researching more at the moment. For sure, I've found Starfall a good app for Seth and Lizzie - beginning phonics stuff. Even Matthew has enjoyed that in the past couple of weeks. The other thing I've done is simply search the app store with terms like "reading grade 1/2/3/4" or "reading science" or "reading social studies" etc etc. That's produced a few good apps. I don't know where your kids are at re: reading, but that's where I'd start (and where I DID start). This is the way I found grade level reading apps, as well as specific reading apps about things like the solar system, community workers, etc etc. I'm at the front end of learning about ipad apps for the kids so I may have more to go on in a while. But definitely check out starfall.

      Anyone else have any good ideas for apps for kids/schooling?