January 04, 2006

Comparing Two Readers

I marvel at how differently our two kids read.

Nathaniel, seven, sounds out almost every word. Even words that he has read over a hundred times now, he likes to sound out first. This habit gets him into trouble with words that don't fit phonics patterns: this morning they were “sure” and “want,” although he appears at last to have mastered “thought” and “could.”

On the other hand, he approaches new words fearlessly.

Once he “gets” a word after sounding it out, he feels no need to repeat it clearly, but just plods right on to the next word. If Mom or I ask him to repeat it, he will say it adroitly without sounding it out again, proving that he really did understand what he read. (He's not happy if we interrupt him this way.) I'm always surprised that he has no problem comprehending a whole sentence on the first pass, even if he spent some 30 seconds struggling with three or four different words in it.

Jessica, five, memorizes words quickly. If an “I Can Read” book presents the same word several times, she will have mastered it after its first or second appearance. Thereafter she reads it at a glance. If she bumps into the word again two days later, she usually recalls it easily.

She's quicker than Nathaniel to give up on a new word, turning to Mom or me for help.

Jessica likes her reading to sound clean. After she finally works out a difficult word, she'll back up and repeat it with the correct intonation.

On the whole, she seems to be picking up reading faster than Nathaniel did. I don't know how much of this difference is due to differences in the children and how much of it is due to the fact that Nathaniel was in public kindergarten last year. Much of Jessica's kindergarten homeschooling involves participating in Nathaniel's first-grade lessons, so she's being exposed to more, earlier. Our curriculum emphasizes reading more than the public school's did, so she's just getting more practice, too.

No comments: