About Me

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Nebraska, United States
A would-be stay at home mom working full-time as a teacher. I teach at my old Highschool, working side-by-side with my own teachers. I blog to keep the Texan grandparents updated and chronicle our life for future reference. (In other words, I don't have a real baby-book or diary.) Comments make my day. Thanks for stopping by! kimlepper at gmail.com

Thursday, March 5, 2015


I love languages.  The only thing that fascinates me more is watching language develop.  Which is one reason I love my job.  And raising kids! 
Everyone has always marveled at Samantha's reading ability, and we know we are lucky.  Jeremy says he tears up every time he sees her reading on the couch because learning to read was a real struggle for him.  He must tear up a lot more than I realized because she's always on the couch reading.
When people comment on her reading I just shrug and say, "She literally taught herself."  I remember someone saying that about another kid while growing up and I didn't understand how that was possible.  And even after watching Sam's reading ability develop, I still don't understand how it happened.  But believe me, it did!
Here's the timeline:
22 months we discovered she knew 90% of the alphabet- both upper and lowercase
3-years she could read familiar words like "can" and "dog" and "play" in books.
4-years she could read words that Jeremy and I would write for her to read.
5-years she had most 3 and 4 letter words down, and would guess bigger ones by the first and last letter and context.  I decided to go through "How to teach your child to read in 100 easy lessons."  By lesson 8 she was bored stiff, but had picked up on the sounding out bit.  We skipped to lesson 80-something and she read it perfectly.  

Again, I knew she was advanced, but didn't realize the to what extent until something came home in her folder the other day from school.

This is what her classmates are reading.

This is what was sent home to work on inflection and new vocabulary.
This is what she reads at home, both silently and out-loud.  Her inflection is amazing.  She changes her voice and volume when the book says "shouted" and "whispered" or when a sentence is a question.
Another reason I'm just now realizing how blessed she is with this talent is because Charlotte is...well, normal.  She's a very bright 17-month-old (just sayin' ;) ) but at her age, Sam knew how to count to 10 and knew most of the alphabet signs.  Charlotte can count to 2.  Or just SAY 2, really.  But she knows what it means, because anytime she has two of something she'll tell you "DOO!"

I've always talked about the various aspects of language acquisition (reading, writing, speaking and oral comprehension) with my students and their parents, but to see it in action just gives me chills.  For example, before Kindergarten, although she could read really well, her comprehension didn't match her reading level (but whose does, really? There are words I can read but had no idea what they mean!).  Additionally, her writing was almost non-existent.  She could copy, but didn't know how to sound-out words to write them, although she could sound-out words to read them.  Just fascinating.  After a few months in kindergarten we've collected quite a few of these:

They usually involve Elsa, but here is a rare one talking about baseball.  Despite having been able to read the word "play" for years, she still spells it like this.  She's obviously a very observant child, as she taught herself to read but writing is in a completely different part of the brain.  Additionally, Jeremy struggled to learn to read.  Although he's now an avid reader, he has a real hard time sounding out what Sam writes.  

As Charlotte's language is developing, I love comparing her and Samantha.  Not in a "whose better" way but just "how are they different" way.   Screens have always been like a magnet to Sam.  It doesn't matter what is on.  She watched Martin Luther King's "I have a dream" speech a few years ago.  It's 17 minutes long.  And in black and white.  And just a guy talking.  Anyway, I digress.  Charlotte, on the other hand, couldn't care less about screens.  Recently we put on a "signing-time" dvd.  The music caught her ear and she realized they were signing and loved it.  I let her watch one after school now while I get dinner going and she loves to sit with a blanket and watch.  Jeremy came home the other day and saw her sitting and watching it and asked, "Who are you?"

Already the list of Charlotte speak is out-dated.  Yogurt is now "gur".  Grapes are now "spsss".  She calls me "Mom-mye."  The favorite car game right now between her and Sam is "Charlotte can you say.....?"  And although she prefers to speak rather than sign, some things she will only sign, like 
"muffin" and "thank-you."  
She's also just learned to put two words together.  She said and signed, "more nana" the other day in the car and I flipped out.  She also learned "cold" and has been very adamant to tell us it's cold whenever we open the front door.  The colder it is, the harder she clenches her fists and stiffens her face.  The other day she thrust her freshly poured milk at me and signed "cold".  I laughed so loudly I scared her a bit.  But when I warmed it up for her she was ok. 

This is a new pastime of hers.  She's so gentle with books. There just one page in one book that she rips.  Same one. Every-time.  
She paused to tell me, "No."

I'm not exaggerating, she did this for 30+ minutes.

She keeps reaching for the sunrays that were landing on the corner of the book :)

And because this will go on for a while yet, I'll be ending this post with


Mammasita said...

I too struggled so much with reading. I never learned how to sound out words mainly due to hearing problems and in kinder and 1st grade I had lots of therapy for this which meant I missed most of the regular direction. Because of this I am having a hard time keeping up and motivating my two oldest. What joy to such a little reader, no doubt her love for reading will inspire Charlotte!

Kim, you always amazed me with your love of language. I wish I could bring you down here for the summer to jump start my kiddos. All of this still frightens me!

Kim said...

You can do it Julia! Jeremy says that what finally got him to read what finding the right genre.
And yes, Charlotte copies EVERYthing Sam does now and is trying to "read". Just today I noticed her pointing to words (instead of pictures like she usually does). I suspected that she found the word "owl" a few times, but I think it was just a coincidence. It will come with time, just enjoy and celebrate the "baby" steps :) Samantha LOVES reading to Charlotte.

Ram Sam Sam

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