E is in Reception year. She is learning to read and write. She knows most of the basic phonics (that’s letter sounds, to those not currently dealing with early years and primary education) and can sound out simple words. She can write her own name but usually misses out half the letters (not helped by most grown-ups spelling her name wrong – it’s not that’s unusual, is it?).
The thing is, E is not particularly interested in these activities. She is not motivated by the desire to learn and improve. She IS motivated with material rewards, but only to a certain extent. Practicing the reading and writing is, quite frankly, boring and frustrating. There doesn’t seem to be a single time of the day when it’s a Good Time to do the required reading homework – she’s always tired, bored, hungry or distracted.
The homework routine usually goes like this:
Biff had a red cup. It was full. Chip had a blue cup.
“Eleanor, can you read the first word to me please?”
“Buh ih fuh fuh – Biff!” (she knows it’s Biff because she’s seen the picture)
“Very good! What about the next word?”
“Ih suh – is. Biff is”
“No, that’s not the word. Look here – what’s the first letter?”
“No, look at it, don’t guess. You know this one”
“Nearly – look, it’s a tall letter. What does it say?”
“Huh! Huh ih suh – his”
“Not quite. Look. Huh – what’s the next letter?”
“I’m bored. My tummy hurts. Can I get a smiley face now?”
“No – you need to read some more. Look, Biff huh…”
“Aa suh. Has”
And so it goes on. Every word is guessed until she happens to get it right. A 12 page book can take us three days to read, a few pages at a time. I’m calm and cajoling, and a smiley face on the chart is given for every good bit of reading. But Oh My God it’s like pulling teeth at times! Writing is similar, but she doesn’t need to practice that at home yet thank goodness.
At some point I know the reading will Click (just like it did with learning the letters early on in Reception) and she’ll be sounding out confidently. I cannot wait for that!
But then I see her doing other work, and she’s so motivated to do it nicely! Her counting and adding is great. Her colouring is neat and considered. She loves sorting things, and her imagination is brilliant!
It’s funny having two very different girls. How did they end up with such different personalities and learning styles I wonder?