Thomas was in a mother's day out program when he was three or four. They focused heavily on pre-reading and blends and by the time I started working with him on reading, we more or less coasted. Sarah Grace was impatient to get started learning and then deemed my pace to slow for her little self. So she leap-frogged ahead of my plan and basically taught herself to read. I quit 'teaching' her about a quarter of the way into The Ordinary Parent's Guide to Teaching Reading. I simply corrected her when I heard her mispronounce something she was reading, and it was forever locked into her brain.
So this year when I started officially teaching Elizabeth to read, I was in new territory. Although she knew all her letters and their sounds, stringing them together was quite a challenge for her. We plodded through the first semester arranging beginner words into sentences 'Jim pat the wet pet cat.' But it wasn't true reading. It was tripping and stuttering along and not realizing what the sentence had said when we reached the end.
I knew we just needed that final pin to fall into place and she would take off. That pin just wasn't in a hurry to fall. She was never discouraged and because of her cheerful and excited demeanor, it was sometimes tough to hear the stuttering about, but not at all stressful to work with her.
And then it happened. She picked up a book and, instead of making up stories she believed fit the pictures, she read the words on the page. We'd just finished our first several lessons of consonant blends and she put her new skills to good use and only asked about the words that had special vowel sounds.
I nearly cried as I stood there and watched her beam as she read the story to her little brother and her baby doll. Her gentle spirit and quiet perseverance had finally paid off and she had reached the long awaited moment when she could pick up a book and uncover the mysteries locked in the arrangement of the letters.
I don't know who's prouder, the student or her teacher.