I'm not sure when to make the official announcement that E is reading. Right now she can recognize some sight words, and she's getting better and better at sounding things out. We frequently have conversations like:
E: Mom, how do you spell bat?
Me: Buh- A- Tuh. What letter says Buh?
Me: What letter says A?
Me: What letter says Tuh?
Me: So, how do you spell bat?
E: Oh! B-A-T!
She's sounding out letters- like Cuh- A- Tuh, but then to combine them into CAT is a little harder for her. Sometimes she can do it, and sometimes she needs help.
So I wonder, when schools say kids should be reading by first grade or whatever, are they really reading? Can they pick up a book, even an easy one, and just go? Or are they reading like this?
I wonder, not because I'm comparing her to what schooled kids are doing, but because sometimes I hear homeschooling/unschooling parents with kids at her same reading level express concern because their state's school standard website says kids their age should be "reading." That sounds like really, truly, reading, but somehow I doubt that is what is really happening. Sure, some kids are. But I think many, many others are where she is or reading even less. Homeschoolers tend to get concerned lest their child be "behind," but I'd rather focus on my child, who she is, and where she is than focus on her in relation to anyone else.
I've also seen some parents get their kid to this point without doing much formal teaching and then say, "She so close! Now she needs some direct instruction to just push her over that hump." I find that sad, because I think if they would just be a little more patient, they'd see natural learning in progress. I've read of many unschooled kids who have a great amount of confidence about their "learning to read," as opposed to their schooled/ schooled-at-home peers who were "taught to read."
Personally, I'm excited to watch her develop at her own pace. I'm always here to help her, encourage her, and support her, but I'm not running out to buy a curriculum NOW, that's for sure!
I've also found it interesting how much linear time and how little cumulative learning time it has taken for her to progress this far. What I mean is that I'm pretty sure if you searched the archives of this blog, you'd find a post from when she was around 4 years old where I thought she was pretty close to reading. Having never witnessed a child learn to read other than myself, I thought that knowing the names and sounds of most of the letters was "close." In linear time, it wasn't, because her brain wasn't mature enough to grasp the concepts that it now is. That has taken 2 or 3 years, and who knows how long from now until she is really able to just pick up any book and go. On the other hand, the amount of time that we have spent actually doing reading related activities, has been very little compared to what she would have done in school. Other than me reading to her, which we do almost every day, she doesn't spend a lot of time writing letters and words, learning letter sounds, and sounding out words. She goes on kicks where she'll spend half an hour a day for a few days or weeks, then not do any of it for months while she's busy learning other things.
It's all really fascinating to watch. I think I'll wait until she reads her first whole book or something before posting the official "She's reading" post. But she's SO close!