Kat Reading

Kat Reading

Monday, November 2, 2009


I yelled at Miss Kat's teacher today...

We have been working very hard at home, on reading and on language in general. We have been doing Miss Kat's sight words every night, plus her homework, plus we read twenty minutes every night and we are working on phonics through Miss Kat reading a series of books called "Reading For All Learners". Miss Kat reads 3 of those every night as well (they are only 20-30 words long.) Plus, we have speech therapy two nights a week. So, Miss Kat is working her behind off every single day. And it shows!!! In the last 9 months, she has gained 2 full years worth of language!

But, since school has started, Miss Kat's teacher has been calling me, at least once a week, telling me all the things Miss Kat can't do. She sends extra work home. She tells me that Miss Kat doesn't know her letter sounds (she does for us at home!) She says that Miss Kat doesn't understand anything that she doesn't sign (well, duh, this is totally new to her!) She says that Miss Kat doesn't even put two words together (Come on! That isn't even close to true!) So, I feel like she is very negative about Miss Kat and her progress.

On top of all that, I have this HUGE weight on my shoulders all the time about Miss Kat learning to read. I think that learning to read is the single most important thing Miss Kat will ever learn. Deaf children have huge obstacles to overcome in literacy, and the outlook (statistically) is still very grim. Plus, if push comes to shove, it could be possible that reading and writing could be the only way Miss Kat can communicate with hearing people in everyday life.

So, I've been getting these negative reports, what feels like everyday, plus the burden of teaching Miss Kat to read is always weighing me down, and today, I snapped.

The teacher had called me, during dinner, to tell me all the things Miss Kat can't do, AGAIN. She told me that she was worried that Miss Kat wasn't able to give an answer when she asks the class "Can anyone tell me a word that starts with 'T'?" and that she can't "blend sounds" and I was just so sick of it. I told her that I felt like she didn't understand how hard Miss Kat is working. I told her that we work on everything, every single day. I told her that we spend hours, doing work, every night, and that I don't think she gets it. I told her that I felt like she was just waiting for Miss Kat to fail, so that she could send her back to the Bi-Bi school. I told her that I thought she didn't like Miss Kat, and that she wanted rid of her.

Miss Kat has been working so hard! She has gained so much and I felt like they were only looking at the negative. She (and we) is working all the time, and all we ever hear is what she can't do, what she doesn't understand, and how far behind she is. I was just sick of it.

Miss Kat's teacher was dumbfounded. She said she was very sorry that she had been so negative and that she was just trying to keep me informed. She told me that she thought I was the kind of parent who wanted to know exactly what was going on, and how to help Miss Kat reach her full potential. She said that she was really hurt that I believed she wanted Miss Kat to fail.

Ok, I did overreact, but this whole thing has been really hard. Learning to read is such a big deal! I think that I have been really stressed with all the changes, and the new school. I just lost it for a moment.

When we implanted Miss Kat, we had no idea that our path would change so drastically. We were an ASL family, active in the Deaf community, and happy at our wonderful bi-bi school. All we expected was to regain the hearing that Miss Kat lost with her last hearing drop. We NEVER expected her to take off with spoken language, and for her to really become passionate about listening and speaking.

It is really hard for me to see Miss Kat behind (and in her oral environment she is behind). I know that I really don't believe the things I said to her teacher, I was just overly emotional in that moment. Miss Kat isn't frustrated, she loves going to school, she loves her teacher and her new friends. She is learning so much. She is still in the right place.

P.S. So, I don't get nasty comments:

The "work" I am talking about is still fun, age appropriate stuff. We read books, play games, color, and do activites. But just because it is fun, and we are, for example, at the zoo, it is still exhausting to have to explain, and talk, talk, talk, about every single thing. It isn't drills, or anything like that, that we are doing. Just, after a year, we are getting tired.


haddy2dogs said...

I remember being really tired. I snapped a bit more than I would like to admit at some teachers.

If it helps I was told my son would be delayed in reading because he is deaf. I was also told by others he would be fine. He is 11 years old in the 6th grade and last week I found out he tested at the 11th grade level in reading. That is compared to hearing kids. I don't worry about reading anymore.

So I know your stress about reading but you sound like a great mom, she will be fine.

Anonymous said...

Write the teacher a short note. Apologize for losing your temper. Tell her that you know she cares about Miss Kat and that you both want what's best for her. Ask her to please keep you informed of Miss Kat's successes, as well as her weaknesses. You might want to make a notebook to send back and forth to school. Make two columns. Label one -- Miss Kat's successes today! and the other one Miss Kat needs more work on... Make sure the teacher knows that BOTH columns should be filled in, not just the needs work.
It sounds to me like you and Miss Kat needed some cuddling and a bowl of chocolate ice cream!
Keep at it! All this hard work WILL pay off.

Dianrez said...

Getting her started at home is tough and one thinks maybe the teachers ought to be doing more instead of asking the moms to do it for them~!

However, what you are doing is never wasted and will insure that Miss Kat will be fine.

Just take time out from lessons to read to her, ten minutes or as long as you like, through mime, acting, in ASL, in any way that works between you two, with the sole aim of enjoying it as a pleasurable activity. Nothing connected to school. Something that she is interested in: stories, nonfiction, news, pets, whatever tickles her. Let her have a book allowance and choose a book to take home or to buy.

Once she gets started on reading, you won't be able to stop her. (and you can get back to your own reading!)

A Deaf Pundit said...

Anonymous has the right idea - and in all honesty, you are doing fine. You are obviously dedicated to your daughter, and looking out for her best interests.

Literacy is definitely a struggle for deaf children, but it is NOT hopeless. Just keep working with her, and she will succeed.

At age 12, I was reading post high school, and I was mainstreamed with an interpreter using ASL.

Hang in there. :)

kim said...

WOW-- I was going to write something, but then I looked at all the other comments and realized I couldn't add anything more that hasn't already been said.

It does sound like you and Miss Kat work incredibly hard, even though it IS fun work. Children are complicated. They don't all develop reading skills at exactly the same time. When dealing with other challenges, such as hearing loss and a second language, it makes sense that they might fall behind a little in the early grades. Luckily reading ability isn't a measure of intelligence. With all you're doing, I'm sure Miss Kat will be fine.

leah said...

Melissa, no matter what, remember two things:

1. Miss Kat is doing a fantastic job.
2. You are doing a fantastic job.

Miss Kat has gained so much ground in so little time. I think her teacher is tempted to compare her oral communication skills with children who were implanted at a much earlier age. Really, Miss Kat should be compared with Miss Kat. What was she doing six months ago vs. what she is doing now. The amount of gain is absolutely stunning when you look at the "then and now."

I can feel your stress with the literacy issues. You are doing an amazing job with creating a literature rich environment, reading aloud, etc. It will come- maybe not as quickly as her teacher thinks it should, but it will come. Miss Kat is so young (six, right?) and is learning an incredible amount right now. Her brain is trying to assimilate new sounds, speech, and a new classroom environment. I think she's doing stellar with the amount of change she's been through in the past year!

I agree that the teacher needs to focus more on the positive. A two-column system that the anonymous poster came up with sounds like a good idea. One column with the successes and another with the "ideas for things to work on."

Erudition said...

Congrats to hard working Kat!

If your looking for an entertaining activity that incorporates both sight words and phonics, try playing Er-u-di-tion™.

This award winning game helps children learn to read, spell and understand the most common words in the English language while playing an entertaining board game.

Dianrez said...

On rereading your post, one thing stuck like a burr. "The teacher had called me, during dinner, to tell me all the things Miss Kat can't do, AGAIN."

One of my kids had a teacher like that in fourth grade. During a parent meeting, she used the word "failed" so excessively that I lost count after 20 times. (In retrospect, that teacher deserved to get the same treatment that you just dished out.)

Although now grown, the memory of fourth grade is still painful for my kid (and me.)

I'd keep a closer eye on Miss Kat's progress with that teacher.