starting small

Writing makes you focus your mind.  It makes you gather up your wandering thoughts and nail them down in a permanent shape.  A snapshot of the mind.

I’m trying to teach Alaric how to read.  He just finished kindergarten and he knows all the letters and their sounds, but for some reason struggles at deciphering the words on a page.  Stanna got a sight-word app for his pad, which is basically flashcards with pre-recorded sound bites.  We’ve been going over the first couple of sets of words (just under 40) and he’s been composing short sentences which I write once and he re-writes 7 times.

go away

come here

I am big

I can jump

it is funny

can I help

look at me

I have a dog.  my dog is black

I have a cat.  my cat is white

Making these practice sentences has improved my (notably poor) penmanship as a side benefit.

We review his past sentences and then try the flashcards to see how many he can get right. 15 at last attempt.  What’s interesting is when he digs in deep to find the answer:
the word is “jump”

He whispers “I can” and announces “JUMP!”

He has a lego dinosaur hunter set in his room which he can have once he gets 30 words.

What strikes me is how much work this is.  I remember being able to read already on the first day of kindergarten.  I have no memory of any kind of work being involved… at least not until Mrs. Kitts started challenging my vocabulary in the 7th grade.  In my mind reading was always automatic and the idea of looking at the word “black” and saying “that one’s hard” is completely foreign.

Alaric has problems.  Speech impediment despite a perfectly working mouth.  OCDesque texture issues.  Trouble empathizing with other people.  Plays too rough.  Has trouble sitting still.  They often want to call his bag of symptoms autism, but my reading on autism doesn’t seem to match.  Stupidity is not one of his symptoms, but some concepts don’t sink in as easy as you would expect.  It took a long time for him to be able to distinguish between the vague “later” and the more specific “tomorrow.”

Sometimes I see his inability to read as a censure on my parenting.


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