And forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet and the winds long to play with your hair. ~ Kahlil Gibran

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Pip, continued...

Big Sprout's new friend, Pip, has turned out to be a pretty sweet little gal. I still have to watch them a little more closely than I would like, because Pip is older and has friends that are older than SHE is. Sometimes they want to do things I just don't think Big Sprout is old enough for.

I really like Pip, and as I piece together more about her home situation, I am realizing how wrong it was for me to judge her on where she lives.

Yesterday, she even opened my eyes to something that I had never really believed before. She broke my heart doing it.

You see, Pip is in the 4th grade and she can't read.

I have heard all the stats on how so many kids graduate from school without ever learning basic skills they will need to survive in the world, but I had never believed it way down deep. I mean really, how can you get through school without knowing how to read? Or add? Or tell one state from another on a map?

Big Sprout isn't a genius, but she is very smart. She is always in the top 25% of her class, which is comfortable for me. She isn't so advanced that she gets bored, but she doesn't really struggle either. I like things this way, and am very grateful.

Yesterday, Big Sprout came home with Pip in tow. This has become the norm over the last couple of weeks. Big Sprout asked if I would be willing to help Pip with her homework, and of course I agreed. Pip explained that she was supposed to read me a story, and then I would sign that she had read it. I gave her the go-ahead, and the next few minutes were pure torture. I watched her struggle to sound out "bird", "play", "some", and countless other words Big Sprout has known since kindergarten. I struggled desperately to not correct her every time she mis-read a word (almost all of them). My heart broke.

When I read the attached note from her teacher (I gotta read THAT before I sign anything, you know), it explained that the story was to be (ideally) read in 1 minute or less with no mistakes by the end of the week.

It took Pip almost 5 to read me the story, and it was impossible to understand what she was reading.

I love to read, and some of my best moments are spent with a book in my hand. It pains me to think that Pip will probably never enjoy reading the way I do.

I can accept that, though. DH is plenty smart (sometimes), and he really doesn't enjoy reading. Different strokes, and all that.

But SHE CAN'T READ! Think of all the things you need to read in a day. Restaurant menus, road signs, memos from the boss. Speaking of bosses, what kind of job will she be able to get if she doesn't overcome this?

So I have been wondering about if and how to help her. I don't want to poke my nose in where it doesn't belong, but I can't stand to see her struggle SO HARD to accomplish something so necessary.

I just want what's right.


Ashley said...

Yes, I'd want to help too. I love reading and want everyone else to as well, but at least knowing how to read is definitely a life requirement.

Are you girls in the same class? Could you talk to the teacher?

Deb said...

Poor Pip. I hope she's getting adequate services at school to overcome this. I hope her parents care enough to make sure the school is accommodating her. I hope it's just an "everyone at their own pace" kind of thing.

My stepson, now 28, had a learning disability. He eventually dropped out of high school, and I felt bad that I didn't help him more, but then it wasn't really my responsibility; he already had a mother, although he lived with The Hermit and me. Now he's doing okay, working for UPS in your town. If you ever see a somewhat tall guy with crew cut red hair delivering a package, say hi!

RuthieJ said...

As someone else who also loves to read, it's hard for me to imagine what some people go through when reading is a struggle. Do you think Pip was receptive to your trying to help her? Do you think between you and Big Sprout the two of you could "coach" her? It's sad to hear that kids are still "falling through the cracks" even with the No Child Left Behind program.

barefoot gardener said...

Thank you, ladies for caring about little Pip. She has really grown on me....more than any of Big Sprout's other friends ever have.

Big Sprout is a year younger than Pip, so I don't really know who her teacher is. I thought about trying to find out, but think that is probably overstepping my bounds a bit.

I really hope she is getting help, too. I get the impression that her reading class is of the "remedial" type, so hopefully the class size is small and she is getting lots of attention. I do wonder if she has maybe dyslexia, because many of her mistakes sounded like she was mixing up the letters. Saying a word that had most of the same letters as the word she was trying to read, but in a different order kind of thing.

I can't believe that your step-son works at UPS! My brother worked there last year during the holiday rush and was very disappointed when they didn't hire him full time. By the time they got around to offering him a job, he had already gotten the county job at which he uses his college degree. The county is a better fit for him, but he really liked UPS.

I think she was a little embarassed to be struggling so hard. I don't want to push too hard, but I have been having Big Sprout share her favorite books with Pip in hopes that the familiarity and Big Sprout's enthusiasm will rub off a bit. I am hoping that as I get to know her (and hopefully her parents) better, I will be more able to help her.

e4 said...

When you wondered about what you could do to help, the first thing that popped into my mind was, "read to her". I don't know if that makes sense, or how to work that into this kind of relationship. I'd have a hard time figuring that out, but I'm awkward that way. But coming from an adult might be better than coming from a peer. After all, grown-ups are supposed to be way better at things like that.

It probably took a lot of courage for her to read to you. I'm sure she's aware that she's not very good at it. If there were some way to return the favor, maybe with a book that's too advanced for either of them, but that they'd really enjoy, it could be fun for all. If she can see and understand how cool books can be, it might motivate her.

We read "Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing" to my four year old, 15 minutes at a time before bed each night. I don't know how much of it he was actually following, but he chose it over his more age-appropriate books consistently. I still remember my fourth grade teacher reading it aloud to us.

I don't know if it's a practical thought. But it's about all I'm good for today.

barefoot gardener said...


I think it's a great idea. I know Big Sprout used to love story time. Pip is staying the night here, so maybe I will give it a try.

Kati said...

Wow.... Right off I'd maybe say something inconspicuous to the school nurse. In 4th grade, with problems reading like that, it's more likely that there's a visual problem going on (along the dyslexic sort) than much else. And unfortunately I'm not aware of what a parent (or a friend's parent) can do to combat that at home. (My library just doesn't have much info on dyslexia, I'd looked when I was concerned about DD's visual accuity.) The school nurse may be able to look into it, though.

Um, other than that, I'd sit down & read with the girls. One thing DD's teacher told me last year is to switch off reading. With a student who doesn't have a problem, they read 1 paragraph (or one page), Mom reads 1 paragraph (or one page), back & forth. With Pip, maybe 1 or 2 sentences at a time may be more the rate of exchange.

Other than that..... Wow. I'm sorry. I hope, for Pip's sake, that y'all can find a way to help. She really sounds like she needs it, and y'all sound very full of the caring needed to help.

Wendy said...

What a tough situation. I think it speaks volumes that you are so worried about her and what you can do.

If you're not able to read to her yourself, you might also try audiobooks. Most libraries have a great selection of audiobooks. We're in the car a lot driving to different classes and activities, and we'll often listen to an audiobook on the way. It's a good way to pass the time, and we've "read" some great books.

barefoot gardener said...

I am getting all teary-eyed. You folks are so wonderful for sharing such great ideas!

It's really nice to have all this help in an awkward situation.

I am so proud to "know" all of you!