Friday, January 15, 2010


Sam was easy -- well, partly. He immediately told me that his reading spot was the kitchen table. He also told me he likes to read when other people are reading. He said it helps him, and he likes to share what he's reading with whomever is nearby.

So his reading spot is set.

Here's where he was tricky.

He bought home a paper he had done at school on author's purpose. I like how the teacher used three or four books from the classroom and had them sort and identify for author's purpose -- either to entertain, inform, or give directions. For first grade, I thought this was perfect. He showed it to me, and as we talked, I realized how he really didn't understand the difference.

SO...I backed up. I need to also tell you that Sam has been identified for Speech and Language services since he was 3. His articulation has grown tremendously, but as he gets older, we notice it is hard for him to express things that are more complex. He completely understands them, but you have to access the information indirectly with him. It is a tricky process, and add to that the fact he doesn't want to "feel dumb" by spending extra time (with MOM, horrible thought) to do the work. He likes to do it his way. Period.

Man, I can't wait for teenager Sam.

We began talking about who an author was - and that authors choose to write different kinds of books, for different reasons. He got this. I pulled out about 6 different books and we talked about why we might read these -- now it was foggier for him. I tried a different route.

We talked about TV, and the different types of shows we watch and why. He understood this much better. We talked about how when we watch Spongebob, we are being entertained...we are not learning about the sea. If we want to learn, or be informed, we watch Discovery channel, or National Geographic. It was getting clearer.

I showed him the words inform and information to see if that helped...nope.

I could tell he was getting frustrated. Frustrated the way kids do when they can't give the answer they feel they are supposed to. I stopped and looked in his eyes.

"Sam, let me help you understand WHY we are doing this. It isn't because you didn't get it right on the paper. I want to teach you this because YOU are a good reader, and this is what good readers know: Understanding why the author wrote this and the kind of book it is helps us understand what we are reading better."

He softened. His posture changed. Instead of a fight, he was ready to work with me. Has this happened with you and your child? It may not even be reading.

As parents, we need to remember - they need to know that learning is theirs...theirs to own, theirs to use. It isn't simply giving right answers.

Sam and I worked a little more. He was more open, and understood the entertain genre easily when we looked through our library of books.

He told me he didn't get what inform was, and I said we'd work on it more today. So I felt we had made a breakthrough in that we know what he struggles with, but more importantly, he is open to working on it now.

I don't expect that everything will be a walk in the park, but I know we will make more headway than butting heads.

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