When we went to Toronto for the week, I asked school for some homework for our kindergartener. So they sent home some maths sheets, some colouring sheets and some sight words.
It seemed an odd collection of words. A few basics like 'they' 'she' 'look' and then 'dick' and 'sally'. I wasn't quite sure why my 5 year old needed to learn the word 'dick' but we went along with the advice and played along making up silly sentences and getting her to tell me what each of the words were.
Now forgive my ignorance but until we sat down to speak to her teachers at the parent teacher conferences a few weeks later, I had never heard of the 'Dick and Jane' books but suddenly it all made sense... Her teachers explained that they use this series of books to teach the kindergarteners to read.
We missed a week of school for Toronto, another for home leave in Nov/Dec, over a week in snow days this month and we have a big trip coming up where the kids will miss over 2 weeks of school.
Now I know she is only a young five kindergartener but I am still keen for her to be able to keep up with her friends so (thanks to a friend who told me where to get one) today I bought a couple of Dick and Jane books for her to read at home.
Her teachers told me that she was doing well with her reading but that she lacked confidence. At home she doesn't really read anything out loud, though one of her favourite pass times is to thumb through a book from cover to cover, looking at every single page. It can be a Princess story book or a travel guide book, she turns each page, looking at the pictures as if she is mesmerised by the feel of the paper or the motion of one page replacing another.
She was very happy to get her new books after school and started looking at them straight away. But soon she looked up at me with disappointment in her eyes, a look of self doubt on her face and said that she needed help reading as she didn't know all of the words.
So I announced that she was going to read the bedtime stories tonight and that I was going to help her.
We all climbed into our bed and she began to read us the story of Dick, Jane and a cat called Puff. (Can you tell that these books were first published in the 1930s?!). And to her credit, she did so well. There were a few words that she guessed and others that she didn't know, but I had a tear in my eye as I cuddled up to my baby and listened to her read a story.