I recently wrote an article called Kids in the Waiting Room. Well, here’s another recent waiting room episode:
I couldn’t help but watch and listen to a loud parent walking in to the allergy doctor’s waiting room. If someone could observe the speech bubble over my head, it would say, “YES!” because the parent was sitting down and about to read to her child, so i thought.
Inside my speech bubble a red, sparkly balloon appeared and then popped very loudly! “Pop!” I winced privately. Did someone else hear that? It doesn’t matter; the reason my balloon burst was because of what ensued.
Ms. Annoying parent (as I will call her) seems to be talking to the others in the waiting room instead of her own child. She says, “Ok now, we are going to read and don’t try to get out of it like you always do”. “Sigh”, I thought, and I look back down to read my own book.
A little ways into my paragraph, I got distracted, I look over to my left and notice another parent- child interaction. They are giggling and snuggling with each other and the Dad is humorously reading to his daughter. Rainbows and butterflies are inserted into my speech bubble. I hear the daughter asking her father some questions to which he answers and then proceeds to read.
I look down to read again and re-read the same paragraph of my book when I hear, “G-g-give me b-b-back the c-c car” The child looks to his mom and says, “Why does he want it back?” To which mom says, “No, no, no, just keep reading”. The child reads more sentences in a choppy fashion. The parent continues to correct. Minding my own business, I look above my head because I thought I felt a raindrop, no, it’s just my old speech bubble again with a picture of a dark storm cloud. “Hmmph”, I say very quietly.
I go back to reading the same paragraph when I hear a conversation between begin with this parent and 2 older parents. It seems some couldn’t help but to intervene; if they only knew.
The older parents were saying that they, too, had struggling readers and that with a little time and practice their children caught up just fine. The annoying parent responds, “I always push reading on to my kids!” She tousles the hair on her child’s head and I get a good look at him. She answers my unspoken question of how old he is. She looks at him proudly and says, “Yeah, he is six years old and will begin first grade this fall.” I had to quickly look down because I’m sure my eyes grew to teacup-sized saucers and then maybe rolled around a time or two. Inside I’m saying, “Oh, no, don’t push he’s too young!”
When she finally finishes her “reading” session with her child, she pulls her book out and begins to read. Of course, her six year old takes the opportunity to get some positive attention by asking her to look at something to which she loudly says, “I’m reading!”
First of all, I apologize if I’m coming across too strong on this parent. After all, she did bring children’s books with her to a long wait in a doctor’s office. I was so close to intervening myself when instead, I remember that I could use this experience as one to write about and hope once again to educate well-meaning parents.
Tips for Reading to a struggling reader:
1) Play is how a child learns. If reading to the child is not fun, then the learning and teaching moments dwindle.
2) Pick books that are below the child’s reading level. The goal being fluency and comprehension rather than just spitting words out robotically. Ask a librarian or teacher for help with reading selections.
3) Never push reading onto a child. Pushing yields resistance especially if the child struggles to read. Reading aloud is a difficult task. Some six year olds do need a little time for this skill.
4) A child will gravitate to reading when they discover how fun it is to discover imaginary worlds. Pick your books wisely and choose to read to your children more than them reading to you.
5) Last, If you think your child is truly lagging behind the others in reading, then ask for a tutor or have your child get tested for learning disabilities.