Friday, April 10, 2009

Reading rainbow

(I said I was going to post about family stuff, well, here goes)

My wife and I are very pro-education. We're very pro-reading. School is important to us, education is important to us and we always knew that we'd be actively involved in our daughters' schooling.

Yvie's in Kindergarten now, and she's doing well. She loves school, loves learning and is doing well in school because of it.

In our local school district, there's a dual-immersion program in which she's enrolled. The program teaches the students 90 percent of the day in Spanish and 10 percent of the day in English in Kindergarten. In theory, it would increase to 80 percent Spanish, 20 percent English in First Grade, 70-30 in Second, 60-40 in Third and would top off at 50-50 in Fourth. I say in theory because the district is in its second year with this program, and only has K and First. But this program has been around in other parts of the state and country so it has some track record.

We just felt it was a great opportunity for her to really learn Spanish, learn a second language, and it's working out well. I can speak Spanish but never took any classes, so it's at a pretty rudimentary level. With any hope, Yvie's won't be. And there's plenty of hope, to be honest.

In terms of reading, in Kindergarten they have only taught her the alphabet and everything related to reading in Spanish. She's been taught nothing in English. No th- makes the "th" sound, no long or short vowels, nothing. That's part of the program. We knew that going in and I was never bothered by it. Some parents were a bit puzzled by it, wondering how and when their child would learn to read English.

Now, I can't speak for other parents but we've been reading to Yvie since before she was born. We started to read to her when she was negative-two months old. Alright, not sure if that exists but before she entered the world we read to her. We read to her when she was an infant. I would get so excited to pick out books to read to her when she was 3-4 months old. Now, her first 2-plus years I only spoke to her in Spanish, hoping she'd learn the language, so I would only read to her Spanish books while my wife read to her books in English.

So not surprisingly, Yvie had a love of books at a very young age. When she was one, she'd sit in front of the bookcase and pull out all the books, sit on the pile and slip through some of them. We tried to read to her every day of her life, and we did a good job of that for the first 2-3 years. I think until we had her sister we did well with that.

Fast forward to Kindergarten, and Yvie's learning the Spanish alphabet, trying to learn the act of reading. She'd always ask me what signs said, what certain words were and things like that when we were out in public or wherever. It continued well into her first year of school, as she wasn't quite reading for the first four or five months of Kindergarten.

But then recently, it was like she flipped a switch in her head. Everything made sense to her. The methods her teacher used to teach her to read worked. She blended sounds and was able to make out words. At first it was a few, then it was more, and now it's quite a bit. Long words are difficult for her, but she can make out short words, even if they're complicated. And she can spell out some words too.

Funny thing is, she can read in both languages. Although she had no formal lessons in how to read English, she was able to pick that up on her own. I've never once sat down with her and said 'this is an -e and at the end of the word it makes the vowel say this" or whatever. I'll answer her if she asks me what a word is, but I don't try and teach her that ph- makes a "f" sound or anything like that.

She developed a base of reading and was able to use those tools and translate them into reading into another language. Probably because we spent so much time reading to her as an infant and toddler, she was familiar at some level with reading and words and everything that goes into that. So when it was her time to read, once it got going, it got going quickly.

Anyway, here's a sample reading. I still think it's strange/funny/exciting to hear her read. I mean, she wasn't reading anything but a few basic words in January and into February.


Willoughby said...

Very impressive! She's adorable! How wonderful that she can read so well in both English and Spanish at five years old. And I love that your three year old sings Metallica, by the way.

Raoulysgirl said...

That's awesome! Reading is SOOO important...and reading in BOTH languages? Way to go, Yvie!!! It's amazing, isn't it? Once they "get it," it's like someone flips a switch in their head or something! My oldest LOVES to read...and now reads to her sister...which is a big head start for her because she wants to be just like Tacha!

Keep up the good work, Yvie! Mom and Dad, too!!!!

Tattoos and Teething Rings said...

Yeah Yvie!! Great job! And you gotta love the book parts explanations- "Cover. Title page." lol

Lissaloo said...

That is so neat, it sounds like a wonderful program.