Lyddie and I haven’t done any reading practice for weeks. Peter and Jane have been abandoned on the sideboard since she lost interest in them back then. I started getting a bit concerned this week, thinking the development of her reading skill might be stagnating, especially since she’s been really enjoying hearing me read to her for about an hour a day, when we started on the Famous Five series ten days or so ago, but not expressing any desire to try to read them to herself.
I mentioned Peter and Jane this week, when my throat was aching from Famous Five reading, saying something like: “You’re not too far off being able to read these to yourself, you know. We should get back to Peter and Jane and work on your reading skill again,” and she said: “Hmm, well, I’d quite like to be able to read this Thumbelina book to myself.”
I opened it, glanced at a page and told her: “Well, you might be able to. Give it a go?” – not, to be quite honest, at all confident that she could, it being quite well in advance of the Peter and Jane she’d abandoned on the sideboard in frustration weeks before. She picked it up and read a page out loud – slowly, but quite smoothly. And another, and another. She was as amazed as I was that she could do it so well, and so easily. We were both delighted: it was a lovely surprise.
I’d forgotten that about the natural learning process. There often has to be a period of leaving it alone for quiet absorption and/or deep processing to take place. If you systematically push something every day remorselessly, even after the student wants to stop, that’s damaging – or at best, impeding. But if you’re able to be completely responsive and stop at the right time (i.e. when the learner says they’ve had enough) then something seems to happen subconsciously in the break – a consolidation process.
She’s picking up books a lot now, reading the odd page here and there and delighting in the fact that she can.
The same has been happening with numbers. We haven’t done any workbooks for a while, and she’s been doing mental arithmetic. “Do you know, Mum, 7 and 7 is 14, and 14 and 14 is 28?” A visitor made the mistake of asking her what 28 and 28 is then, and she told them she didn’t want to know the answer to that.
There’s always someone who wants to take charge of her learning process for her and start trying to lead it! But I’m sure that slows her down.