When I was a young child, I loved to read. It helped that my parents were avid readers and taught me to love a good story. A book, it was reasoned, was portable entertainment that would take you into a whole other world if you let it. And let it is exactly what I did.
I loved to read, it was as natural to me as breathing, expect breathing is one of those things we do without thinking. At some point I had to learn to read which required thinking, so perhaps in reality reading was more like walking to me. Once I learned the basics, mastered the whole one foot down in front of the other I was off and running, erm reading. I was unstoppable.
Birthday and Christmas requests always, but always, included at least a handful of books. Don’t worry about what “reading level” they are designed for either, I was reading well above my level because my parents also taught me that if you are interested in something, you need to know more about it. My interests tended to run to things that had books written at a higher reading level than my age said I should be reading at. This left me with a choice, I could either read the books that were meant for my reading level based upon my age, or struggle a little and learn more. I opted to struggle and learn more.
Because I took to reading like duckling to water, I am completely at a loss when it comes to my godson. He is reading well below the “normal level” based upon his age and grade. He has been tested for learning disabilities, eyesight issues and what must seem like a million other things. There is, according to the experts who have tested him, no reason why he isn’t reading as he should be other than he is being stubborn.
My girlfriend is at the point of pulling her hair out as she watches his reading skills slip further and further behind those of his classmates. Her husband isn’t puling his hair out over this, mostly because he doesn’t’ have any hair to pull out, but also because everyone knows little boys struggle with reading. Or rather that’s how the saying goes.
It has been suggested that for this school year the child be placed in a remedial class, just so that his esteem won’t be damaged by his low reading skills. It has also been suggested that he be taught the consequences to his lack of reading skills, such as the type of job he can expect to get since he wont’ be graduating high-school.
Given that he is currently in grade three I think this might be a case of assuming you threw the baby out with the bathwater before even checking to see if the baby is in the water in the first place. There is still plenty of time for him to learn how to read, time to cultivate a love of stories. And it isn’t as though the child doesn’t have an imagination because he does.
So in order to help my friend out, I asked my godson what it is about reading that he finds hard to do. I expected it to be something like those tricky silent letters like the B on the end of numb or maybe when two letters put together make a different noise, like the ph in phone sounding like an F. But these do not trouble the boy in the least. What he finds hard to do is that he must sit in a chair to read.
The child doesn’t want to sit in a chair to read. He wants to read in a more comfortable position, but school provides only desks to sit in. And his parents insist he do his homework and reading at the kitchen table, which means sitting in a chair again.
He asked me to climb a tree with him, we didn’t get up too high, and he sat there and read to me. With the only struggle being how to climb the tree while holding the book. Of course school will never see this. School has rules about when, where and how the reading must take place. He must learn to conform to these norms or he will be labeled and left behind. But why does he have to sit in his desk to read? Why can’t he sprawl out on the floor and read given that school is there to teach him. Teach him how to read, don’t worry so much about him having to sit a certain way in his desk I say. Let him have a world of stories and books open up for him first, and then work on the sitting because he does know how to sit and will figure that stuff out as he goes along.