When mistakes are beautiful

I think that mistakes and errors in learning don't get the attention that they deserve, because I kind of love them. That sounds a bit goofy, I know, but it's true.

We are in the midst of emerging fluent readers around here. For the most part, all phonics books have been dropped (hooray!!), and we are working solely from real books. You know, the whole reason we teach reading to begin with. K. is a fluent reader, but scattered, so he and I still read a chapter aloud together every morning, so I can help him practice focusing on the page. G. is reading the American Girl book about Kaya, and L. is reading Catwings by Ursula K. LeGuin. Both of these girls are just teetering on the edge of being completely independent readers. Y. is the only one still using a phonics book, but that is my choice not hers. English vowels are the ever troublesome equivalent of Mandarin tones. They are just stinking hard to hear, and it takes a lot of concerted practice and listening to begin to distinguish them, so we are using the phonics books to perfect her ability to hear vowels. I am also using them to increase vocabulary, because without an appropriately large vocabulary, reading fluently is nearly impossible. I've explained to her why we aren't reading chapter books together yet, and she is grudgingly accepting. I'm also using the phonics book as speech therapy, because her diaphragm support, while much better, still needs work and strengthening. Once again, she is grudgingly accepting. On my side is her understanding of long term goals and her need to completely master what she wants to do.

This brings us to H. For nearly all of last year, she and I read through the All About Reading graded readers together. This was a good choice for her at the time, though she knew they weren't really 'real' books, though they are bound to look like real books. This year, with everyone reading chapter books, and knowing that H. is highly aware of when others are able to do something she is not, I decided to use easy readers for her reading books. This has proven popular, and we started Are You My Mother? today. H. can actually read this level of book quite fluently, far surpassing what I anticipated she would be able to do three years ago. What is just as exciting is that I think that she is finally beginning to understand the meaning behind the words she is reading. How do I know this for sure? Well, it was the mistakes she was making today.

Most early readers, and actually it's a thing most fluent readers do, is to pay attention to the story and anticipate what the next word is going to be. Often when a new reader does this, the word is wrong, but is close enough in meaning to the actual word so as not to interfere with the story. Before this year, this has not been the case for H. She would guess at a word, but it would be a totally random guess, often due to worry. It never had any bearing on the context of the story. But today...

Today was the first time that I have heard her make a guess in reading a word, and have it be in context with the story. She was following the story she was reading enough to begin to think ahead and make an educated guess about what the next word was going to be. It felt like a momentous occasion. I'm beginning to have hope that at some point, she will indeed become a fully independent reader.


Carla said…
So do you stop and correct her reading or just let it go and enjoy the moment?
thecurryseven said…

In this instance, I do go ahead and correct her reading... as well as everyone else's during this particular time. There is plenty of reading that goes on around here that is unmoderated, and I let things go by in those cases.


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