DECIPHERING WORDS

sage reads with elli

'It's Sunday' exclaimed Cinnamon to her brother, 'Mama always has a surprise breakfast for us'. The children were finishing the construction on the Lego lighthouse whilst I prepared the special breakfast. Sage did not want to know what it was, so he kept averting his eyes from the table and the kitchen albeit I am guessing he had an idea of what it was when I turned on the blender.

Had I made challah bread on Friday, we would have been eating French toast as Cinnamon desired. Her other requests were lemon ricotta pancakes or a puffy pancake. It was puffy pancake today - the same as the last Sunday when they stayed with me with orange zest being the extra ingredient - and a bowl of strawberries with sugar. Sage kept asking for more 'salt' for the strawberries on his plate. I knew he meant sugar.

They took to reading today. My younger two children. Sage and I went to the area under the stairs which I set up for them to play and read. It is a simple set up of a large blanket on the floor at the point where the stairs slope downwards. A pile of books and more Lego bricks were off to one corner. I handed Sage the 'Fish Out of Water' book and he began to read with a little assistance from me.

He noticed words he read moments ago. 'Oh, I just read that here', he said. He also noted how if you cover up some letters on a longer words, a new word was formed. 'If you cover these letters, it says cat', he continued. His sister joined us after a while and listened to her brother read.

Before lunch, Cinnamon asked for the other present I had for her birthday but had not yet given to her. I told her I did not wrap this present but she did not seem to mind. It was a chapter book about a bunny fairy. She was delighted and thankful and made herself comfortable on her bed with her new book. I listened to her as she read out loud for a while before she read silently. She amazed me with the speed at which she was reading and would have finished the entire 67 pages today but decided instead to leave the last ten pages for tomorrow.

bunny fairy book

I handed Sage his new book about a little elephant named Elliot living in a big city. His eyes lit up as he saw the book was about one of his favourite animals. We sat on his bed, across from his sister's bed, and at first looked at the book. With Elli, one of his many stuffed elephants, by his side, he started to read.

The words were larger and a bit more difficult to decipher than the book he was reading after breakfast. His eyes kept scanning the pages for any clues as to what certain words might be. There were times when he was clearly guessing and not sounding out the words as in the case of the word 'challenging'. The illustration was of the little spotted elephant attempting to reach the ice cream in the freezer with a broom. Sage read the word 'challenging' as 'ice cream'.

Watching Sage read was enlightening. I recalled the time at the beginning of the school year when he had difficulties recognising letters as I held up flash cards. Now, he is deciphering words one at a time and is connecting the illustrations to the accompanying words. It reminded me of how we as adults learn a new language, especially when in the midst of a country where the language is foreign to us. We look for clues or facial expressions, as in the case of learning by watching television programs in the foreign language.

little elliot

As with any skill, perseverance and determination will lead to success. With daily practice, I have no doubt my son will read like his sisters soon enough. Finding the right books to keep his interest will also aid in the path to his mastery of reading.