At least a year ago, I asked the boys if there was anything that they particularly wanted to learn - and I remember Middle's answer, partly because it baffled me so much. I blogged about it here. He said he wanted to read "big books" like Eldest and me (his name for any paperback book where the story is divided into chapters). At the time I couldn't see the problem in his mind - after all he was fluently reading picture books to his younger brother - and surely if you can read, you can read! Picture books, chapter books, instruction leaflets, comics... it's all reading is it not? Obviously there was something I was missing - and so partly because I was clueless as to how to address this apparent lack of confidence, partly because I know Middle does NOT respond well to pushing, coercing, bribing etc, I just left him to it - carried on providing reading material of all shapes and sizes, and letting him choose what he wanted. To be honest, I had all-but forgotten his desire over the passing of time.. until today.
This morning at breakfast he came to me and asked if after breakfast we could have a snuggle and read a book together. Of course my answer was yes - I LOVE snuggled-up stories - and once Youngest was settled on Reading Eggs in the study, I went to find Middle in the lounge, book in hand. He promptly climbed on to my chair with me, opened the book and began to read. Lo and behold, a "Big book", or chapter-book! And a chapter-book that he - without any pressure from me - was reading to Mummy! And then I remembered his serious little face from last year, sharing what he wanted to learn. He read a whole chapter to me - I could have stayed there for ever. It was beautiful. Yes, I teared up a little! You know, I still don't know what the difference was in his mind between the reading he was doing and the reading he wanted to do - or what the perceived obstacle to it was - but I don't care. The fact is, as I was sharing with a lovely friend on the phone, that children learn best when they are ready. Sometimes they have obvious issues that prevent them from learning at the same rate as their peers supposedly are, sometimes we don't have a clue why our precious ones aren't doing what we think is well within their grasp... but if we leave them to it and surround them with opportunities to learn, they will learn.
Oh, and while we're in 'gloating mode' I might add that this is the same child who learned to ride a bike at the weekend! Daddy had removed the stablisers many months ago as we felt they were getting in the way - and Middle promptly decided he couldn't do it, so his bike has stayed in the garage ever since with very few outings. This weekend, cunning Mummy worked out that as he has had a couple of good growth spurts, he would probably be well able to reach the floor with both feet while sat on his bike, and therefore better placed to learn to balance. So I innocently asked him if he would wheel it out to the front of the drive so I could see how big he is on it now. I genuinely wanted to know - but I was also pretty sure that if I delayed going out to see him for a few minutes (which I did), he wouldn't be able to resist having a try while no-one was looking. And he did. And he successfully rode for a few feet... enough to give him the confidence to agree to Daddy helping him to get his balance. It wasn't many minutes later that my beautiful boy was riding his bike down our quiet little street. We went to the park yesterday too, to reinforce his new skill. He wobbled a little - and then nailed it. My heart just about bursts for joy for him - to see my boy, often lacking in confidence, mastering skills that he was once convinced he couldn't do - just because we were able to give him the space he needed to get used to the idea and give it a go! This is one proud and happy Mummy!