Friday, May 16, 2014

Looking for a reading rainbow in this thunderstorm.

Oliver has recently shown an interest in learning to read. Which is great! Sort of. Don't get me wrong, I think it's awesome that he wants to read.

But teaching him to read? It is painful. I would rather change 1,000 diapers.  I'd probably even rather rip off my big toenail. It is nothing short of a miracle if we both don't end up angry at the end of a 15 minute reading session.

To him, reading is this magical thing. Adults do it! His teachers do it! Important people do it! Video games and board games and road signs and kids' menus require it!

He sees all the benefits that come along with literacy and he wants them. Reading would open up so much for him right now. The only problem is that he thinks he should be able to do it and that he should be able to do it now. But of course, he can't. He's four and half. Most kids his age can't read. Most kids aren't even trying. It is natural for him to struggle, but he doesn't even begin to see it that way. He's used to being smart and being able to learn things easily, so when something is a true struggle he gets frustrated and then he gets MAD.

Yesterday he shouted at me, "I AM NEVER GOING TO READ EVER SO I MIGHT AS WELL THROW AWAY ALL OF THESE BOOKS." That was actually much more preferable to me than the time he yelled, "YOU AREN'T DOING A GOOD JOB AND IT IS YOUR FAULT I CAN'T READ."

I think experiencing and overcoming frustration is important for children, but this just feels like too much. I've tried ending sessions before he gets to that point of explosive anger, but I just can't stop him. He insists that he really likes reading and that he wants, nay needs, to practice more. The obsessive part of his brain that he inherited from Jared makes leaving a story unfinished feel like a torturous failure.  If we stop, he is angry that he was bested by a "really super easy" story. If we keep going, he is unbearably frustrated because everything in the entire world is against him and the letter H is just too hard.

Either way, I lose.

Regardless, I still continue our reading sessions.  Since he is so completely determined, I feel like I shouldn't discourage him. I don't want him to think that he should quit when something feels hard and frustrating. But I also don't want to watch him get angry and volatile every afternoon, either.

It's a hard place to be, and I'm unsure of which direction I should head. Soon this should get easier, right? Or at least less frustrating?

I took this video toward the end of one of his "pleasant" reading experiences. He was still doing fairly well at that point, but he was starting to make mistakes and you can see the frustration under the surface just waiting to explode into anger. 

Every night when I tuck him in to bed, it's my tradition to tell him something positive about the day. Lately I've been telling him how proud I am that he keeps working on his reading skills even though it is really hard for him.  Every night he says the same thing.

"Yeah, maybe tomorrow I can read."

I wish.

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