Isabelle started reception class in September last year. She absolutely loves school, but is the youngest in the year. Her birthday this year falls on the last day of school in July, so really, she couldn't be any younger in the year. I was always the same as my birthday is the day after hers. So as she was starting school at 4 years and 6 weeks, some of her new school friends were only weeks away from turning 5.
Verbally she can keep up with them. I guess this comes from growing up in a pretty much adult world at home. I know we all like to think our kids are intelligent and child genius, but I was curious to see where she fitted in in the grand scheme of things in school, especially being the youngest by quite a long way.
Isabelle is a do-er, she's always drawing, writing, reading books and wanting to know everything, and we've always encouraged her.
Her first parents evening meeting went really well and her teachers have no concerns about her at all. She is at the top of her class for all subjects (yay!).
One thing was concerning me though, and that is her reading. The way it works in our school is that they read to the teacher one day a week, bring the book home and are encouraged to read three times minimum to parents and their book gets changed the following week. They started out with books with pictures and Isabelle had to tell the story. No problem. Then at the beginning of December, she got her first book with words in. She complained that it was too easy. But I know she has to go through the scheme (Biff, Chip and Kipper books are great lol). The teaching staff realised (through my comments in her reading diary) that she needed more. So they sent home two books a week. She was still finding it easy and I felt I needed to have a word with the teaching staff. I was given an ideal opportunity.
As we live in North Wales, our schools teach Welsh and celebrate Welsh traditions. St David's day was on the 1st of March and our school had an Eisteddfod. Isabelle said that she would try and learn the following piece to say on stage. (I nearly fainted when I saw what she had to learn). Her teacher said, if she can't learn it, don't worry, but Isabelle wanted to try.
So over last weekend, we sat down to read it. She read most of it to me! She'd never read it before, but there were only a few words she struggled with. I was in shock. Here's the piece she was supposed to learn.
St Dwynwen is the Welsh patron saint of lovers. She is the equivalent of St Valentine.
The story of Dwynwen dates back to the 5th century. Dwynwen fell in love with a Prince called Maelon Dafodrill, but her father Brychan Brycheiniog was determined that she would marry another man. Dwynwen was so upset that she could not marry Maelon that she begged God to make her forget him. After falling asleep, Dwynwen was visited by an angel, who appeared carrying a sweet potion designed to erase all memory of Maelon and turn him into a block of ice. God then gave three wishes to Dwynwen. Her first wish was that Maelon be thawed; her second that God meet the hopes and dreams of true lovers; and third, that she should never marry. All three wishes were fulfilled.
She couldn't learn it all, but by the end of the weekend she could read it word for word. I spoke to her teacher on Monday morning and said she could read it. I went to the Eisteddfod on Monday afternoon to see my tiny 4 year old stood in the middle of the stage with a microphone and read the whole passage to the entire school and their parents. Talk about a major mummy moment.
What I'm getting to with this long post, is that her reading was re-assessed after the teachers saw what she was capable of. They could barely believe she'd read this. She has now been moved from stage 2 reading books, to stage 5 reading books. These are the books that the 6 and 7 year olds are reading. And she read the first one to me with no problem. She reads books to me at home all the time and I have to battle with her to read her bedtime story, she wants to read it herself. I'm not quite sure how to keep up with my little bookworm. I do test her all the time to make sure she's understanding what she's reading by asking her to tell me what the story is about. I skip and pick a random page to make sure she's not just remembering it parrot fashion, and I pick odd words out here and there but she just seems to be able to do it with no problem. She'll be reading Lord of the Rings in no time LOL