Things that seem so simple have been difficult for her. For months, she struggled with the letter C. I went over it with her again and again and again in various contexts and formats, and yet she could not remember it. But one day it finally clicked. She knows C now, but R is giving her trouble. R and N.
Let me tell you, this has been a tremendous lesson in patience for me. I had to learn to not get extremely frustrated when she would look at a letter I knew she had correctly identified many times before over a period of weeks and say "I don't know that one." "AAARGH!!! YES YOU DO!!!! oops, I mean, it's okay, dear. That's T." I think I am a more calm, patient teacher now.
She reminds me a lot of Bean... I used to feel like he was a flickering light bulb. When he was "on," he knew things and did well. When he was "off," he didn't know anything, even stuff I knew he knew. He grew out of it, so I know that Peanut will too.
When I was struggling so much with Bean years ago I read a lot of stuff. So many homeschoolers said "if your kid is having a hard time with reading, leave them alone. Maybe they won't read until they are nine. That's okay." With Bean, I had to have faith in this, having never seen it firsthand. He was nine before he read fluently, but when I put him in public school at the end of 5th grade (age 11) he was not behind at all in reading. So I think a lot about that, and about how something I read said that there is a reading center in the brain and if you teach a child to read before their reading center is developed, they have to put the information in other places and it makes it harder for them. Some kids develop that reading center later, just like some babies learn to walk later. It's okay.
That all being said, I don't feel like I should just completely leave Peanut alone right now. For one thing, she wants to learn. She wants to be able to read like her friends do. She loves having her own language books like her sisters and she wants to work out of them. For another thing, I don't think it's unrealistic to try to teach a SIX year old the ABCs. In this case, I think repetition and consistent practice are what's needed. So we continue to work on those letters.
Because letters and their sounds don't come quickly and easily, working on sight words has been overwhelming to her and asking her to sound things out has often made her come unglued. I was hoping to start her on the Good and the Beautiful Kindergarten book after Christmas, when we finished the preschool book. But it's clear she's not quite ready for that yet. So we're mostly still working on letter identification and sounds. However, we are also doing lessons from the "Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons" book. We are on about lesson 25 at this point, and in that book she does sound out simple words made of a few selected letters. She does really well with this when I bribe her with chocolate chips.
Because everything is such a struggle, those moments when she finally gets something really shine. Small victories are a big deal. For a long time, she would sound out words and then have no memory of them afterwards. She could do the same word over and over again for days and look at it like she had never seen it before. So it was huge and exciting recently when she recognized the word "is." Now she sees it everywhere and it's so fun! On Sunday in Sacrament Meeting we pull out the hymn book and she finds "is." When I read her stories, she looks for "is."
It's amazing how one tiny word can give me so much hope.