At the last parent teacher conference we attended we asked what could we do to help her with her reading (back in November). We were made to understand that they don't really recommend a lot of homework, other than practice reading, because they work so hard in class. So we backed off a little. I have to admit it was with some relief that we did so because often her frustration levels and my frustration levels would clash and that's not a healthy learning environment by any means.
So I figured finally we've got a great set of teachers helping her, she gets extra help with her reading and pronunciation a few days a week so it must be all good. So like I said we backed off. We let her do her assigned home reading online with assistance from us when she needed it. I thought it was all good until we got that notice.
Even though we're not supposed to do comparisons, it's pretty hard not to see where she falls short. From my 7 year old niece whose job it was to read all her brother's 3rd birthday cards from beginning to end to all of us to the 7 year old foreign student who not only wears a wrist watch but can perfectly tell time.
So I've come up with a new plan. Because she gets frustrated so easily it makes it difficult for us (and I'm sure her teachers) to work with her I've instituted a rewards plan. I bought a bunch of stuff at the dollar store and put it in a box. Each day she works with us without getting frustrated she gets a sticker. When she gets five stickers she gets to pick from the box.
What we are trying to achieve here is to provide some sort of motivation for her not to give up. I know she can do more than what she thinks or says she can. I've seen her do it. Just like I'm amazed when she will one day print the most neatest letters I've ever seen and yet the next day I open her planner, I can barely read what she's written. It's almost like she gets stuck and starts to do a whole weepy thing simply to get out of doing her work. Like she knows if she frustrates us, she will get off the hook from doing her homework. I'm not just grasping here, I've been trying to analyze her behaviour for weeks now.
Anyways, she seems excited by the whole thing and already has earned two stickers.
Only to make it fair, because I have three kids, I have to provide opportunities for the other two (5 and 3) to earn stickers as well.
So we've pretty much started our own family night school. E works with her dad on spelling and math while I get J set up with learning her basic reading sounds on Starfall (BTW if you haven't checked out Starfall.com it's an excellent learning to read resource for preschool and up). And O and I retire to the living room while I show him flashcards of the Alphabet. O (almost 4 now) also goes on Starfall.com and it was with some amazement as I listened to him sound out the letters S - U - N and turn to me and say "Mommy, that says SUN!".
Then kicks in the mom guilt as I foresee both J and O excelling in reading right from the get go because we took the time to work with them. Ah great, a whole new reason for the mom guilt.
It's not that I didn't try to teach E her ABCs and basics it's just that she didn't like to learn. She couldn't even learn the words to Twinkle Twinkle. It's just her way. Once baby #2 and then baby#3 came along, I pretty much decided she'd learn at her own pace and it was doing either of us any good to force the issue. That's why she was going to preschool. Only half way into her preschool year her teacher decided to embrace the Learning Through Play philosophy and so out when the window any pre-kindergarten basics. Now she loved her teacher and so did we, so we stuck with it and said to ourselves, people expect too much from children nowadays. Let kids be kids. What we got out of it was a child who loves science and nature. And that's not a bad thing.
Only when you're in the school system and preschools are churning out kids who already know to write their name by 5, well it's a hard system to suddenly try to fit into.
I really believe she'll get it eventually, it's just a hard journey for her (and us) right now.