Take a Pause

"Besides asking Millie to practice more with Poppy at home," I went on, "what exactly is the school doing to support Poppy's literacy development, if the Tier 1 instruction in your classroom isn't enough for her?"

I last posted here over a month ago, on October 5th. That was just nine days after my brother-in-law was given a terminal diagnosis. I had no idea that it would be this long when I last posted, or the kinds of tasks my days would soon be filling up with. I actually started this post on October 15th, but when I look at my phone and text records from that afternoon, I can see that I was quickly pulled away to attend to his needs.

Over the last month, the leaves have become gilded on the trees, and my driveway has been carpeted with dry, blond ponderosa pine needles in the fall windstorms. It's no longer early autumn, but the season in its fullness, moving toward winter.

It's been even longer since I last posted about Poppy, when she recited her poem at the beginning of October, though I've seen her several  times since then. I also attended her parent-teacher conference at the end of October. Something has shifted for Poppy during the last couple of weeks. I'm not sure exactly what, or why, but I've seen it with kiddos before. I suppose I'd call it an emotional growth spurt. She's become a little more willing, even a little more eager, when it's time to read, or to shift from a few minutes of coloring at the beginning of our time together, to having a go at the spelling words. I can see literacy tasks becoming easier for her, and I can see her growing pride in her abilities to figure out what a word says, or to remember the accurate spelling for a word.

Poppy's reading fluency has improved from about 30 words a minute to 50 or more, and that's since the fluency homework started in early October. I don't think the homework itself is responsible for her improvement – at least not solely – because I've also noticed improvements in her spelling and in her script, or in what my teachers used to call penmanship. She even got 15/15 on her last spelling test, last week. That's never happened before; it's her first 100% on a spelling test. And while I don't think that spelling tests are a great measure of knowledge or understanding for most kids, I do think that the improved performance is evidence that Poppy is coming to better understand just how writing actually works. She makes far fewer bizarre errors than she used to, like blending /m-æ-d/ and then anouncing "bam!"

It's almost like she came back from her fall break in October a little more grown-up. Sometimes, taking a pause from the normal routine can have that kind of consolidation effect for a kiddo. Here's what we've been up to since then, with extra pictures:

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