Thursday, October 6, 2011

Oh wow, my baby can read!

Ryan has started to read.

Given a word, he first sounds out the letter sounds and then blends the sounds to form the word. So for example, when he sees the word CAT, he will say "/k/, /æ/, /t/ ... CAT!"

It was such an amazing and thrilling feeling for Richard and me when we first saw him decoding words. Just like when he took his first steps, it was a hugely significant moment. Our son had become, irrevocably, a reader! We were so very happy for him!

Richard and I also felt a huge sense of accomplishment. Unlike learning to walk, which required very little from us, Richard and I have been very involved in Ryan's early literacy journey, from the day he was born. We have been reading lots and lots of books together, doing pretend play, learning the alphabet, learning the letter sounds, having conversations, singing songs, re-telling stories, learning how a book works (including letting Ryan chew on it and turn the pages). We also play a lot of games with words and letters - remember this post? And yes, we did use some iPhone and iPad apps and some DVDs and, I hate to say it, these gave Ryan an extra boost.

As a result, Ryan knows his alphabet, both upper and lower case and he knows the regular letter sounds for each letter. He knows how to isolate the letter sounds to identify the first letter of a word - for instance he knows BOY starts with B, because he can isolate the /b/ sound at the beginning. He knows how to spell the words: LOVE, FOX, BOX, RYAN, ELMO, NODDY, ZOO, MOON, CAT, DUCK and a few more, which showed that he appreciated that a group of letters formed a word (to me, that did not mean that he could read, only that he could recite the letters in the correct order - yes, I'm hard to please). He also knows how to form letters using things like sticks, straws, coins and by manipulating his fingers and arms.

For the past few months, Ryan has been OBSESSED with letters and numbers. Out of the blue, he will yell out some letters and numbers, or letter sounds and words, because he just likes hearing them. Two nights ago, he was saying letter sounds - IN HIS SLEEP. I heard him say "/k/, /æ/, /t/"! Hahaha!

I know he was saying letter sounds because, earlier that same evening (Tuesday evening), I wrote the word "cat" on our little chalk board and he said, "/k/, /æ/, /t/ ... CAT!" I didn't think that was unusual, because he knows the word "cat" and he knows all the letter sounds in the word. So I wrote another word using the same word family ("hat"), and he did the same thing, breaking up the sounds and reading the word correctly. I wrote another word and another and another and he decoded them all without any difficulty - cat, mat, sat, fat, rat, pat, hat, bat. I wrote out words made with other word families - fun, sun, gun; big, pig, fig; and he sounded all of them out confidently! I was so excited - I told Ryan that we had to fetch daddy and show him! When Richard came, Richard wrote the words and Ryan read them all out again! We were all so excited!

The next day (yesterday), I spoke to Ryan's nanny and I told her that he was saying letter sounds in his sleep. She chuckled and told me that he loves to say letter sounds all day. I mentioned that he could read a few words and you know what she said? She said, "Of course! He can read many words!" I was flabbergasted! She also said that she had taught him the days of the week and the months of the year and he could read all of them! Oh my! She was so proud of him - she said that she only needed to show him anything once, and he would remember it. Gosh.

Anyway, when we got home, we went through some words again. Here's a Youtube video of it (about 3.3 minutes long). You can hear Ryan sounding out each letter sound before he puts them together and declares what the word is. I love it when he says "What's next?" at 1:28 of the video!

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