My daughter is falling behind in reading
Updated: May 23, 2019
My 6yo daughter is taking Readers home to practice and I've realized she's not actually reading, but she has memorized all the words. When she can't remember or I ask her to ACTUALLY read a word, she gets angry and frustrated because she can't do it. What shall I do? Do I need to insist in her properly "decoding" words as opposed to memorizing them? I'm worried she will fall behind in the reading.
Fall behind? Fall behind where? The couch? The back of the chair? When would a journey go backwards? A crash? Are you expecting a crash?
I must admit, school can sometimes put roadblocks up...worried parents can too!
Unless there is a significant health issue...students fall forward, rolling, dancing, skipping, running...but always forward in their learning.
The simple answer to your question is: No, you don’t need to insist on her properly decoding words as opposed to memorising them.
I do challenge you to ask yourself why you would ask? Has your daughter struggled to learn in her 6 years to date? I ask this because you have so much proof that she will learn to read, yet you worry that she won’t.
If you look at a group of 1000 ten year olds, other than a few, all of them will have learned the skills to read. That few will have their difficulties recognised and given support to ensure they can access the written word. Teaching children who are blind and children of blind parents highlights how much more there is to reading than decoding.
Your daughter speaks! What the brain had to do to learn such a sophisticated skill suggests that your child's brain does what it was designed to do. “Lungs for breathing, brains for learning”. When a child masters the art of speaking, he or she can use words to befriend, to collaborate, to complain, to ask a million questions and to get what he or she wants. As your child’s first teacher, your first step was to assume that she could learn to speak. You can assume she can learn how to read, write and count.
So I repeat, why do you ask? Do you remember how many times you have worried for no reason? Maybe your daughter didn’t crawl as fast as her friends, or was it the walking? Crawling, walking, weaning, toilet training, pacifiers, making friends, swimming, tantrums… All children reach the destination, but at their own pace and with their own style. Some children learn in a very orderly straight line, others zig zag, others take the scenic route…but when they want it enough, they get there.
Every time your daughter “bumps into” words, she is learning to read. Every time you have a conversation with your daughter, she is learning to read. Every time you share a story with your daughter, she is learning to read. Every time your daughter brings home a reader and reads it to you, whether by memory or decoding, she is learning to read, every time she interacts with books or watches others interact with books, she is learning to read. If you assume your daughter will learn to read, the rest will take care of itself, and the only way she can fall is forward.
As with all learning, when it is purposeful a student will connect more easily. Home and school makes literacy important, we can’t do without it in our society. I have a son who wouldn’t be without a book and one who would prefer not, almost determined to not! But they both learned how to read, they needed to.
My friend says that reading with her child is “an act of love”, when we instil the love of the written word, reading can become a lifelong passion.
I found reading with my boys a chore, when we instil a need to read, the written word can become a lifelong necessity.
Therese is from a large family with three children of her own. Mr 26, Miss 24 and Master 15. As an educator with many years of experience, she has collected plenty of stories, she uses these and family tales to inform her teaching practice. She has made a name for herself with her innovative and inclusive teaching practice.