Since our last post three weeks ago about Crayons' reading progress, she's moved on from Arthur's Pen Pal to two Golly Sisters books, Little Bear, and a couple of other easy readers. Tonight she worked through Caps for Sale, even though she had to ask what a bunch of the words were. (If I'm sitting beside her, she just stops reading until I say the word she doesn't know--I can pretty much predict which ones are going to stump her anyway.) She reads the same books over and over, to herself, to her doll, or to anyone who will listen. [Side note for anyone who's just climbed up to the Treehouse: Crayons will be five this May.]
Part of what she's doing is memory of the story, especially on the hard words. Part of it is her good memory for sight words, and part of it is sounding things out. She already knows these stories so well that what she remembers can carry her over the things she can't sound out. Every few days I try to dig out something at her level that I remember her sisters reading at that stage, and help her read through it. Or if it's one of those four-stories-in-one books like Frog and Toad, I'll read a story and then she'll read a story. After that she just takes the book and reads it until we don't ever want to hear it again.
I read the curriculum catalogues and realize how much learn-to-read material we seem to be skipping over. It's not systematic, it's not sequential. We've been playing games for about a year to get her to this point [Side Note: We're only talking a few minutes of word games every couple of days, in case you think I pressured a four-year-old into learning to read], but it was her own sudden burst of confidence that moved her into this new "I can do it" stage. If I had a child who would just take things at the "normal" pace, I'd use the old Alphaphonics book and help her grow her reading vocabulary bit by bit. But Crayons (like her sisters) hasn't wanted lists of phonics words, or especially anything to do with "short vowels" or "consonants"...in a way, she's not even ready for them. What four-year-old is? What she wanted was to be able to read books, and now she's there. Buddy-reading time (when we're reading books written at about a grade 2 level) has changed from me reading most of the words and letting her fill in a line here and there, to her doing most of the words and me filling in the extras.
At this point it doesn't take a lot of teaching. It doesn't take follow-up activities (let's all pretend we have a pen pal like Arthur, and write a letter to him). It just takes a lot of listening.
Quote from Crayons: "I can read a zillion stories, and I know about numbers, so now I want to do math."