He might not know the word “epiphany” yet, but my 5-year old son just had a pretty big moment of enlightenment. As a parent, I am glowing unabashedly right now. I have just witnessed my little boy turn one more corner, sprinting down the path from toddlerhood, and racing toward the elementary school adventures of the “Big Kids.”
My son’s second half of kindergarten is in full swing. So far this year, I have seen his progress as he forms the shapes of capital F’s and lowercase J’s with his little fingers while clutching an oversized pencil. We do homework together, and I’ve watched as he has begun to master phonetics and “context clues”, carefully choosing between the words “see” and “look” when completing the sentence “I can ____ the bird.”
I’ve always made a point of reading to my son and his little sister most evenings as part of their bedtime routine. However, at the moment, his school is participating in a RIF reading challenge, and we have been asked to read for 200 minutes over the course of the two-week challenge.
As part of this challenge, I decided to step up the game a bit. This week, we would let my son try to read by himself, and I would help him along. Honestly, I thought this would be a futile exercise: before the end of the first page his frustration would peak, and I would jump in to finish the story before the book got thrown on the floor.
To my surprise, though, my little boy was fully up to the task! He picked out one of his favorite books, from the Jon Scieszka’s, “Trucktown” series, and he began to read, by himself! Granted, he is familiar with the story. The vocabulary is great for a 5-year old boy, with exclamations like “Smash!” “Crash!” and “Splash!” repeated on nearly every page.
But, he wasn’t merely repeating the story from memory, he was reading! Some words were tougher than others, and we sounded them out together. He laughed and told me it was silly that the ‘g’ and ‘h’ in the word “high” are silent. He got frustrated once or twice with words that had a few syllables, but he did not give up. He read every word.
I studied him as he read, watching the synapses connect in his brain as he sounded out each letter. He shouted the word once he put the sounds together. ” No luck. Max is S-T-U-C-K. … STUCK!!!!!”
Clearly my son’s teachers are doing a great job, and I thank them for that. My son seems to be living up to his end of the bargain too. I knew this day would come, and that he would learn to read. It’s not an epic event on a global scale, but it’s a fairly big deal in my house. My husband and I could not be more proud.
After the 20-minute reading session, I smothered him with praise and plenty of High-Fives. On the other hand, he was very nonchalant about the whole thing. With supreme confidence he simply reminded me: “Mom, I know lots of words.”