Thursday, February 2, 2012

Can You Teach Your Toddler to Read? Should You?

At four years old I was primed and ready for the world of academia. I loved books - an inheritance from my wonderfully bookish Mom. I knew enough of the letters to write my OWN name on the Library Card Application! And, well, I had new shoes. What more does a lil lady need? Kindergarten was going to be my oyster.

But no! Day ONE! There he was... "Kebin" could read! He was trotted up to the front of the room, every two seconds it seemed, to read the 'small print' for the class. Boy, oh BOY, that burned me up! It still does all these years later.

The fact of the matter is that old 'Kebin' had older brothers, and during the previous year, while the younger brother had been laid up for quite some weeks, parents and older brothers had read to him. Kev was a bright toddler with few distractions, so he paid attention. Once the family realized he was getting it, they worked in earnest. By the time September arrived, Kev was reading fluently at a 2nd or 3rd grade level.

Kev was never bored. It seemed to me that every day there was something he read. He 'always' got to hold the pointer as the class worked its way through Spot and Puff. We went to Catholic School, so there were prayers and stories of the saints to read, and Kev 'always' got to do it. He was the one appointed to the "Task of Honor" - opening the classroom door and politely greeting visitors. Every time he said, "Good Afternoon and Welcome," I'd cringe.

I was so jealous my fingernails must have turned green! I indignantly demanded to know why I hadn't gotten sick so they would have been forced to teach ME to read. Mom fed my angry insistence on learning right NOW. She got out the books, the pencils and the paper and set about to teach me. By Halloween I'd caught up - and could handle those letters and words as well as Kev.

To tell the truth, in the thirteen years Kevin and I went to school together I never DID get a clear lead on him academically. None of us did. Heaven KNOWS we tried! He was a good, conscientious student [who got the lead in the play EVERY year, the bum!], and now he is a busy lawyer, a good Dad and still a great friend.

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