Sophie started school back in September. She’s a May baby and she seems such a long way off being 5 just yet.
She has settled into school brilliantly, making lots of new friends and having a lot of fun. She loves school and comes home full of stories about what she has learnt that day. This term their topic is ‘Space’. They’ve talked about planets and stars, aliens, planet Earth and a whole host of other things and we are only in week 2. She is full of enthusiasm as she tries to remember the names of the planets at dinner time, and she is so excited about their junk modelling project – for the end of term they are making a rocket! I love hearing all her stories of the school day, of what she has learnt and what she has enjoyed.
Sophie attended a forest school nursery last year. Rather than classroom based activities, the children spent their time gardening, walking through the woods, building dens, splashing in streams and climbing trees. It did mean that the academic side of things was missed a little – I didn’t (and still don’t) see this as an issue though. The confidence and love of nature that she gained last year are priceless. As a person she has developed so much. Her social skills are brilliant and she fits in to any situation.
She has recently learnt to independently write her name. While I know some children have been doing that for a long time, it’s a new thing for her. And of course one of the big things she is learning this year is to read. She brings a new reading book home each day and we read it together in an evening.
And that is where our ‘problems’ start. I use the word problems quite loosely here.
She just isn’t getting it. I can see an improvement, but I also know she is way behind some of her classmates in terms of reading ability. She CAN do it, but she has no interest in sitting with me and concentrating. We are working on blending at the moment and this evenings session has ended in tears. She’s frustrated because she doesn’t want to do it, she says it’s too hard. I’m frustrated because I know she is capable. She’ll sound out the letters and say the word once, and the next time it comes up in a story she will forget the letters, or she will just stare into space, angrily telling me she is thinking if I push her.
Thing is she wants to learn to read – she loves books and stories. But she just doesn’t seem to get it right now.
I also want her to learn to read – I feel a pressure from the school to do the reading each evening, and I feel like a failure when our sessions don’t always go to plan, or we seem to have taken 3 steps back from our previous progress.
She’s still so little
And then I remember that she isn’t even 5 years old yet, she’s still so little. She’s a clever little girl, and I know when she decides its time, she will do it. Some of her classmates came to school with a better academic background than her, some of them are 8 months older than her. When I think where she was 8 months ago and how much she has changed in that time I realise how long it really is to a child of her age.
Does it really matter that we are almost halfway through the first school year and she can’t read? Of course not. It matters that she is happy and settled at school, that she is in an environment that she is comfortable and relaxed in. It matters that she has a willingness and enthusiasm to learn new things (just not reading!!).
She has a good grasp of numbers and maths and her understanding of phonics is definitely improving. I just need to learn to not get so worried about her progress, to not push her and trust her to know when it is time.
Because she’s still so little and all our children do things at their own pace.