Thursday, June 14, 2007

Readin', Writin', and Hand-Wringin'

My kids love to read. Okay, not actually read, as in "on their own," but "be read to." They clamor for books, ask for specific authors at the library, remember plots and characters from books we borrowed 9 months ago.

It's heartwarming for this bookworm to see, and it's lulled me into thinking that learning to read can't be so far off. We've got the constant exposure to books, we've got the good reading role models, we've got the love, man.

What we appear to be lacking is the ability and/or desire to read those books on their own. Okay, not "their." This is all about Sean.

Over the winter we seemed to be making good progress with learning to read. He was able to read a lot of words on his own, and even more with help. But at some point in the spring, he lost interest. Now when I ask him to read with me, he balks. "I don't think so," he tells me. When I press just a bit, he recoils. "I don't WANT to read!"


I know that part of my desire to have him read is selfish -- I read early, shouldn't he? Wouldn't I be just the best parent if my son could read before kindergarten? I'm not proud of these motivations, but they are very much there.

So I've backed off. I don't want to push him beyond his ability or interest at this point, and I certainly don't want him to be turned off by reading. I worry about frustrating him, or implying that reading is hard work that's best avoided. In the interest of fostering a true love of reading, rather than merely feeding my own ego (ahem), I'm now keeping the learning-to-read efforts low key. I point out words casually, in books or signs in stores or along the road, and ask if he'll read them with me. He still constantly asks how words are spelled, too, which I find encouraging.

And sometimes I ask if he wants to write some words. Unless we're at a restaurant with crayons at the ready, he's reluctant to write, too. I think part of this is related to fine-motor skills that could use some, well, fine-tuning -- his printing is almost but not quite terrible. I'm not overly concerned about it, and I don't want to be pushy. But I wonder if he should be practicing writing some letters each day so that his existing ability doesn't disintegrate over the summer.

I'm not exactly wringing my hands over this. It's just that I'm hoping my "okay, whenever you're ready" attitude doesn't harm Sean or put him at a disadvantage in school.

Your thoughts?