Friday, January 24, 2014

The Awesome Mystery of Growth in Reading

Something has happened over the last few weeks.

My eldest son has caught the reading bug!

He is working with a will now in our reading lessons. Eager, interested, proud.
He is asking to read his vocabulary cards and play games with them.
He is showing off what he can read to his Papa.
He is asking for his reading lesson before breakfast is over.
He is finding books everywhere that he can actually read, and he is reading them.

Now, I must admit that these are not difficult books. There is Chicka Chicka Boom Boom, Hop on Pop, Who is Coming to Our House?, and a few Bob Books and A Beka Readers. His ability has not taken a huge jump. Yes, his reading vocabulary has been slowly and steadily increasing with daily work, but this is not the difference I'm noticing. The real difference is that he wants to read now, and that he realizes he can do it.

How did this happen?
The truth is, I don't really know.
We have worked away steadily at the mechanics for several months now, learning phonics, memorizing sight words.
Charlotte Mason taught me to keep the lessons short and interesting. We have tried never to have a boring or a frustrating reading lesson. And yet, he would have liked some of those short lessons to be shorter yet.
But not anymore.
What is going on here?
Why is it that this sudden growth in interest seems to have little to do with the slow and steady work we've done up to this point?
And why am I getting the feeling that it really doesn't matter what I teach him from this point on? He will read, no matter what I do next. Oh, I'm sure I can still help the process along, but even if I don't, nothing will stop him now.

The mystery of growth in reading seems a lot like physical growth to me. You feed children meal after meal, day after day. You make sure they get plenty of fresh air and sunshine. And yet, they stay about the same height and weight for months at a time. Then suddenly, in the span of a week or two, they shoot up by an inch and a half! (This is often accompanied by eating everything in sight.) It's mysterious and a bit unpredictable, this process of growth.

And yet, would healthy growth have occurred in the same way without day-to-day nutrition and exercise? Our daily lessons, our games, our little motivational record of "Books I Can Read All By Myself," our newly instituted "Quiet Time" when he could choose to read or rest quietly...they were all healthy nutrition to support this growth spurt. And I will continue to supply him with his daily "meals," which will be taken in all the more voraciously now that he's so very hungry for them.

I've been trying to make the lessons a joy.
Now, they are a joy.

This, my friends, is success!


  1. I love this so much. The girls have been doing that same and it is the sweetest thing to see :-) we have started doing some dictation exercise thisthisweek. It Is fun to see a 6 yrs old writing words on paper all by herself

    1. Isn't it funny how amazed we are at our children's growth and learning? I'll probably look back at this post in a few years and smile at myself, but for now it's all very new and exciting.

  2. It is exciting, Nelleke, and I don't hope you ever look back at this blog and smile at your excitement. Rather i hope you will have the same excitement and wonder when your youngest child gets to this stage. It is always a joy to behold!

  3. Congratulations, Nelleke! And I mean that in the Dutch sense of 'gefeliciteerd' or 'let's be happy together'. It is an amazing time, like watching a butterfly unfold. Truly a miracle!