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Monday, March 19, 2012

Reading by Decoding

The Bubs can't read words yet, but he probably can recognize a few. After we read, "Are you my Mother," last night, he asked if we could read it again. So we did. He stopped me half way through the book and flipped the pages back to the start. He then began telling ME the story. So I sat back and listened (with amazement and pride). Bubs 1 went through most of the pages and told me about the story. He probably used his memory of the story combined with the pictures on the pages. Tomorrow, I'll ask him to tell me a story BEFORE he has had a chance to hear it. Early childhood educators call this "picture walking" when they are teaching students to read. Many early education teachers "walk" their students through the book and ask "what is happening" on every page with a picture corresponding to the text.

In Connecticut (maybe many other states?), the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) federal mandate requires all Kindergarten students to leave Kindergarten with the ability to read 60 words per minute - fluently. In a Kindergarten classroom that I observed recently, the teacher told me that it's not a realistic goal for the students in her classroom, because of the different levels of "knowledge" every student brings with them to school. However, she said that there is a significant difference in Kindergarten students that occurs between September and June.

Bubs 1 is already showing examples of decoding a story through pictures. This tells me that he holds knowledge of the items symbolized by the pictures. He understands what a bird is and therefore has understanding when he sees a picture of a bird, although he may not be able to read or write the word "b-i-r-d." It would be inaccurate of me to conclude that he has less knowledge, or no understanding, of what a bird is simply because he cannot read or write the word in English. However, the methods of measuring student knowledge in most schools, i.e. standardized tests, may assess otherwise. I'm sure that his mom and I will prepare him the best we can before he begins Kindergarten, but not all kids have the resources that the bubs has.

Since a meaningful public education is really just accessible to a portion of school-aged children in our nation and competition is getting more and more fierce for the remaining children, his mom and I may just "redshirt" him a few years before he begins. Maybe starting Kindergarten at age nine will put him at the top of his class each year?


  1. Just because you were still in kindergarten at age nine does not mean that is what is best for everyone.


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