I can't help it. I just have to post this. Ava has been what might be called a reluctant reader. It isn't that she is behind. It's more like she just doesn't want to do it, so she puts the least amount of effort into reading as she can. She does things to distract herself on purpose so that she can try to get away with reading only a few pages during her 20 minute lesson. She tells me things like, "Art is more funner," or "Can't I just color instead?" Yes, she's a creative kid. I keep telling myself that her lack of effort in learning to read has, thus far, not stunted her ability to learn the skills necessary for reading at an appropriate level. She can read. She just doesn't like to. And? If you ask her to read something for you, she will probably tell you she can't. Most of the time, she can. All this has lead us to consider her to be reluctant to read.
Ava is not, however, reluctant to write. She started writing letters on her own when she was 3. This caught me by surprise because her brother, who has always been an advanced reader, refused to do any writing until he was a couple months into kindergarten. Ava loved to write letters. For about a year, she has also loved to write words independently. This means that she wants to write what she chooses to write, not necessarily what I want her to write.
The one part of school that both of my kids absolutely beg for is the opportunity to do a creative writing exercise. We've been spending more time on writing since the beginning of January. The kids have been loving the creative process (though the idea of having to edit and write a polished copy does cause a few complaints from the boy child).
Yesterday, I decided to search for some new story starter ideas. We love the Write Shop Story Builders, but we needed something new. I googled and found THIS on the Scholastic website. My kids were ecstatic! Ava drew a picture and dictated a postcard greeting to me, which she will copy tomorrow. Lukas wrote the longest story he has ever written for me. Three pages! Remember, he doesn't like to write (i.e. physically writing, not the creative process of story telling. He LOVES that!).
Today, when school was finished, the kids begged me to let them go to the Scholastic site and write another story. Um...why would any mom say no to that? Both kids sat together at the table writing and illustrating for 45 minutes. These stories will not be edited. They will not be given any constructive criticism. These are stories which are just for fun. I couldn't be more thrilled. Independent learning rocks!
All this is to say that Ava wrote a story on her own. She didn't ask for help. After she did the story inspired by the Scholastic prompts, she wrote this:
Heelo sede Rpunsl. Rpunsl sede This is my husbin Flin sede Rpunsl.
Rpunsl I amm Soosin. I amm sevi yers luod sede soosin.
I anm Rpunsl sede Rpunsl. OK ur Soosin. Say my nam.
Rpunsl sede Soosin.
Soosin sede Rpunsl. Soosin wisht and sede I wish I wish that I had a lovelee littl booka uf flaourc.
This is funee rit?
I know it's rough, so I'll translate (I have the benefit that she read it aloud to me).
"Hello," said Rapunzel. Rapunzel. Rapunzel said, "This is my husband, Flynn," said Rapunzel.
"Rapunzel, I am Susan. I am seven years old," said Susan.
"I am Rapunzel," said Rapunzel. "OK, you're Susan. Say my name."
Susan said, "Rapunzel." Susan wished and said, "I wish, I wish that I had a lovely bouquet of flowers."
(This is funny, right?)
It makes little sense, but it's funny, right? Okay, so maybe not. Humor me. Everything is spelled incorrectly. I don't care. She wrote it completely and totally by herself. No coaching. No prodding. No asking for help to spell words. No complaining that she had to write too many sentences and wanted to play. She wrote. And then she read it to us.
This is a moment at which I am reminded that all this stuff I do matters. When I feel like I'm not giving my best because my mind is scattered in too many places, my kids are independently striving toward the next step in their learning process without me. Amazing. God is carrying us through!
Ava writes. Ava reads. Someday, I hope that she'll even read willingly. One step at a time. One...Step.