Two years ago, our daughter received a huge gift. She was very excited to open it, only to get a puzzled look after she saw what it is. It was a toy, all right. Who among kids do not like toys?
Her dilemma, she has not seen that toy before. Neither of us knows how to play it. What is worse, the toy did not come with instruction. We searched the internet and saw the marketing video. Based on the video we played it once or twice. But because the instruction wasn’t very detailed, we did not see a lot of progress playing it. We ended up putting out the gift in the garage. It sits there until now.
Thinking through that gifting experience, my attention got drawn to the gifts that God gives us. They are “huge” because they made up our purpose in life. However, it does not come with a step by step instruction. Because of this, we tend to shelf it. Waiting for others to come along that might help us figure out. That is a gift wasted.
There are gifts that do not grow on their own. It needs to discovered, nurtured, invested time upon before we can fully appreciate and make use of the gifts to serve its purpose. Knowing the gift is one thing; discovering the gift is another step. Then, nurturing and, investing on that gift is the bigger leap. Using it to glorify and serve God is the ultimate goal.
Five Years Ago
When our first child entered Kindergarten, she doesn’t know how to read words. She recognizes her letters and their sounds but she doesn’t know how to read them together. She was on a regular school and it looks like she needs help outside of the school. We can not depend on her teachers. We sensed that we had to help and teach her. But we do not know the best way.
At that time, I had purchased a book that is supposed to help her read but it wasn’t really helping. The book was teaching her to read through sight words. But a book doesn’t contain just one word! We borrowed level books in the library but it only created frustrations for both of us.
We also tried online learning sites like ABC Mouse, Reading Eggs, and those did not work.
We need something that works!
During one of our cell group meet at church, a first grade teacher told me about Abeka charts. She told me to get one of those and try it out. I searched for abeka charts, which during that time the name really sounded odd to me. But thanks to Google, it led me to the Abeka site which opens up materials more than the charts. It’s not just charts, it is a reading program!!
But then doubt sets in. I felt like I have uncovered a hidden treasure but skeptical to take it because the treasure might come with a curse. I felt nervous looking at the short a vowel symbol (a curve symbol on top of a letter) and long vowel symbol (a flat symbol on top of a letter). What do those symbols even mean?
You see I was born, grew up and studied in the Philippines. The English language is already my 4th language. So that I don’t have to go through phonics. When I got held of an English book, I started reading it right away applying the reading principles I have used when learning how to read in Filipino (Philippine’s National Language). But how do I apply that in English language?
Material Display Saves the Day
Browsing the website, I saw a material display. The location is not very far from where we are. So I packed the entire family and off we go. When I got there, I dive myself right away into Abeka’s Reading Program. The representative was very helpful with all the questions I have. I discovered there is a CD that I can play to go through the charts, short and long vowel sounds. There is a lesson plan on how to teach phonics. Best of all there are series of books that the child can practice reading. Which is according to the child’s reading principles she had learned. No frustrations. It comes in all coordinated. A lesson plan, teaching charts, a CD, and books for practicing. Not to mention the contents were really good. The entire family enjoyed reading the books. It also encouraged our then 3 year old to read early.
God’s Gift of Language
When God created Adam, He gave him the gift of language. It is intelligent enough that God commanded him to name all the animals within his dominion. God also gave him freewill and high level of understanding in order to start a family and make progress.
The gift of language encompasses the gift of reading, It is very important that it is not only a skill, it is a gift from God. A gift that needs to be taught, nourished and nurtured. A child can have a gift of music but a parent will not know if the child has a gift if not exposed to quality music. A child can’t reach the full potential and purpose of the gift if it is not supported and pursued.
Even with the advent of audio books, and television where a kid can learn without reading, I still insisted on investing on a reading program.
My kindergarten daughter started reading. And she jumped right into high reading levels. We would later discover that she has a gift of a high reading comprehension. It is high that she can connect and decipher stories from different books and connect it to the Bible, and questions those. She can connect her History book into the Bible and question it to prove that what she has read is accurate. We knew that this gift will be in great use for her to serve God.
We expose her to more diverse books. Our greatest motivation for our kids to learn reading is so that they can read the Bible and develop their faith with it. The other perk that comes with reading, is independent learning. The Abeka Reading Program helped her a lot that her reading level is that of a 7th grader at the end of her 3rd grade. She is now a fifth grader, and my reading class with her is very insightful. I will write more about this in the next days of our learning journal.
I’m encouraging parents to unleash this gift to their child’s mind. We help them discover this gift that God gave to us when He created man and woman according to His own image. No matter how hard, we take that challenge. Investing on a reading program is a great start.
P.S. There are kids that has reading disabilities and I heard some of them. This learning story does not cover that. In the next months, I will write a separate learning story about this. In fact, I have a 4 year old who might have a reading disability. However, this should not deter us from helping our child to read. Let us take this challenge positively. We know that with the right reading program, and grace from God, we would be able to unleash this gift to her.