Tuesday, October 6, 2009

My Weakness

Phonics is my absolute least favorite subject to teach. I just never seem to trust that it will work. Once a child can read, I’m home free. I enjoy all the rest. Reading did not come easy for my firstborn. I was ready to pull my hair out after the first year. Everybody had told me how their child completed half their phonics workbook and then they just took off reading. Elena didn’t.
She was my preparation for teaching my Africans how to read. It has proven a much harder task. Because of their small vocabularies (people weren’t constantly talking to or reading to them as they grew up), they have a hard time knowing when they’ve sounded out the right word. For instance, Maya sounded out “suddenly” 3 times correctly, when I finally said: Yes, that’s right- suddenly. You don’t need to keep reading it.
Maya looked at me perplexed and said: That’s a real word?
This has happened so many times that I finally realized that although she’s reading fairly well for someone who’s only been reading for 2 years, she still can’t read alone.
The other main problem (never mind malnutrition beginning in utero) is vowels. In Liberia, the vowels aren’t distinct the way they are here. I frequently close my eyes to discern whether Maya is saying the correct vowel sound. For instance, today she was supposed to read the word “bite”. She read what sounded like “bat”. I said: No, a bat is a small creature that flies at night.
She was insulted. She said: No, I meant “bat” like you play baseball with.
Most days I console myself with the knowledge that Maya will eventually learn to read fluently. But some days, I whine to Kyle: Why is the progress so slow??? What if she never reads?!
Despite the fact that I thought Elena and Chloe would never learn to read, they are both fluent readers. Why do I have to relearn this lesson with each child?


Shell said...

I thought it was just me. I am teaching Kindergarten for the first time and of course, I'm questioning myself. My little is catching on quickly yet, I can't help hope I don't mess up.

Thanks for letting me realize that its just teaching thing and it will pass soon. I can't wait to share that she is reading.


Donna said...

We have ran into many of the same issues. Our children now 9 and 6 have been home almost 4 years and we still see some of these issues. One thing that has helped our son is writing out what we hear he is saying and using it as a vocabulary lesson. From your example she learned bite and the 2 homonyms for bat that is great vocab work. We then repeat the word till they can wrap their tongues around it--sometimes they can't.
Our youngest actually sees a speech therapist and it has been great for her as she also has auditory processing issues, most likely due to malnutrition--she was almost 3 when she came home and weighed 21 pounds. She is barely doing kindergarden work, but that is where she is and that is the joy of homeschooling.

The therapist did say that all accents are caused by the way we produce our vowel sounds, so it makes sense that an older adoptive child will have a harder time with this area.

Praying for you as you all walk through this learning journey together.

Delighting in Him

Tina said...

I understand. We have the same experiences with our Liberian children. We have six Liberian children ranging from 5 up to 13.Our 13 year old still can not read much at all and she has been here close to two years. Learning simple words by sight is easy but the phonics is difficult.

Congratulations on your pregnancy! I did not realise it had been so long since I visited your blog!