K has three major achievements this week.
First, he went to the toilet all by himself at Ikea today. We were at the restaurant and I was laying everyone’s food on the table when he told me he needed to wash his hands. Before I could tell him to just clean it with tissue and water, he had already gone off to the toilet on his own. He peed, washed his hands, and came back to the table all by himself! While eating, we chatted about his toilet experience. He said he didn’t go to the “girl’s toilet, or the baby toilet (he meant the baby room) or the boy’s toilet”, but he went to the “old man’s toilet”. Huh??? It was only after he described it as “the one with the chair” did I realize that he was referring to the handicapped toilet. Taught him a new word — handicapped — today.
Second, he went downstairs to the supermarket and made a purchase all by himself yesterday. He finished his dinner really early and I gave him $2 to get apples from the NTUC that is about 4 blocks away (no need to cross any road) while me and T were still having our dinner. I wasn’t sure how many apples he could buy with that, but he came back with 5 in a bag and 5 cents change!
Third, he read about 70-80% of two comic books that I borrowed from the library. Between June and July this year, I was still receiving a lot of feedback from K’s teacher at the old school that he is unable to recognize a lot of high frequency words, tends to daydream in class, frequently reverses his alphabets/numbers, and so on and so forth. Her main message to me was that I should get him to go for a proper assessment if he doesn’t improve by next year. She probably meant assessment for dyslexia but she consciously chose to omit the word from the conversation because she felt that she wasn’t trained to make such an assessment.
Anyway, I was totally unconvinced that I should bring K for tests or slap a label on him because that month I was reading Nick Vuljavic’s Life Without Limits, and he talked about how labels should not be used to constrain anyone’s life. So my take on K was that some children may just develop later than others, are just more distracted than others, or have naturally bad handwriting. In any case, K’s teacher at the old school gave me some really useful tips to modify my reading routines at home, so here’s what I have been doing for many weeks:
- Change my choice of books from complicated ones (that introduce ideas) to simpler ones (that introduce words that are easily recognizable visually).
- Make a conscious effort to point out the words one by one (I do this with a pointer that’s actually a balloon stick).
- First time we encounter a book, I read it once. Second time we encounter the same book, we attempt to read it together. Third time we encounter the same book, he tries reading it independently (provided book must be pegged to his current reading abilities) with me sitting beside him to offer praise every few pages or so, make sure he gets the word right, and drop phonetic clues when he’s struggling with certain words.
- Cut down from eight books a night to four-six books a night because of a deliberately slow reading speed (so that K can match what I am saying with what I am pointing).
- Books that K manages to read independently are not counted in the quota (at any one night, he’ll definitely have more than four books that he wants to read, so he’s motivated to read them independently just so that it will not count at all in my quota).
- Refresh stack of books for night time reading once every seven to ten days (this is really for me because I’ll usually be bored if I had to read the same stuff for more than a week).
With these tips from the old teacher plus the crazy amount of English worksheets that he has to do in the past month in this new school, I can truely see a marked improvement in his recognition of high frequency words. Granted he’s still reversing some alphabets/numbers (those that I spotted this month include y, z, n, b, j, 3, 9) but the fact that he can read 70% -80% of any book is really a great achievement! I don’t think the old school teacher will believe it until she sees it, hahaa! These were the two comic books that he read 70-80% independently this week, The Fearless Four: Braced for Battle and the quirkily funny Benjamin Bear in Fuzzy Thinking.