Max’s is now in 5th grade and his spelling tests consist of about 25 words, each of which he has to look up in a dictionary to find the meaning of. And this year, he finally fell in love with reading; he even stays up at night reading through the next adventure of Lego Ninja. We struggled to get to this point though, but Max was a trooper every step of the way and really didn’t put up much of a fight.
On the other hand, Max’s little brother is in 1st grade this year and has spelling tests that consist of 7 words. These words are sight roads that are for beginner readers and we are still only on the cusp of reading stage 1 books. Little brother likes to scream and fight with us over learning these words and isn’t easily bribed with prize payoffs. He struggles to sound out each and every word, and a lot of the words aren’t converted from sounds to spelling, like many and book. As he tries to sound out each word, he randomly takes a stab at what that A sound is in many and the O-O sound is in book. I tell him to stop sounding it out and just try to remember the words; really, when you think about it, our language is really confusing, especially in the eyes of a child.
This got me thinking though. How did Max do this? We never went through the sounding out thing with him, but that was because he couldn’t sound it out. Did he sound it out in his head and try to just make sense of it? Did he make the same sounds in his head as the sounds coming out of his little brother’s mouth? I have no idea how Max did it, but I do know it was something he struggled with alone. It never dawned on me that he couldn’t sound out those words, and I don’t remember any of our therapists or teachers bringing it up either. He somehow managed. Of course it was a struggle in earlier years and he did extra time with reading, but his memory was (and still is) impeccable, so spelling was a breeze.
But what gets me with him is that he wouldn’t tell me either way if he was having a hard time. Not because he’s embarrassed or anything like that, but because he’s so confident in himself. There is no one in this world that can tell him he can’t, because he’ll just keep on trying with that beautiful smile on his face. He’ll push through until he gets there and perfect it – he amazes me.
The other day Max asked me if he could use Dictionary.com for his spelling words. I told him that he had a dictionary for kids and that would probably be a better resource for him, but he insisted that he wanted to use the online dictionary. I didn’t want to fight, so I gave in and said he could go for it, but he had to keep the kids dictionary close by in case he didn’t understand what was written online. But then I started hearing a voice coming from the computer. One word after another, Max was using the online dictionary to sound out the words for him. He wanted to hear what it sounded like, not just read it. It was his way of “sounding” out the word like his little brother does with his spelling words.
It’s funny how such a simple program that I want to say no to ends up being a changing moment in life. I seriously don’t know what we did before we had the Internet. From the Proloque 2 Go for iTouches, iPhones and iPads to all of the other amazing programs that help a child that can’t talk, I am amazed (almost on a daily basis) just how good of a resource the Internet actually is.