A New Reader

Vivian Flower

I can criticize Ontario premier Dalton McGuinty for a number of things, from putting the breaks on needed transit investment in this province, to imposing a health care “premium” rather than a more honest tax increase. However, I have to say that his introduction of full-day kindergarten in this province has been nothing short of a godsend. It has really helped Vivian, I think, who as she approaches her sixth month of senior kindergarten, has started to learn how to read.

Vivian is flourishing in her school. She is making a lot of friends, greets each day eagerly and brings home loads and loads of crafts. Most recently, however, she has started in on our school’s “home reading” program. This is where, in addition to a library book, she brings home a special book that she and I or Erin have to read together at home, sounding out words and everything. We log each completed book on a sheet of paper, and colour in a new segment of the bookworm. Vivian does pretty well. She struggles, and hasn’t quite mastered the task of sounding out words she doesn’t know, but yesterday Erin was looking over a children’s cookbook manuscript that a friend had submitted for proofreading. With no pictures or any other cues, she pointed at a particular word and said, “could we try this December recipe?” And, sure enough, the word she’d pointed to was December. I can easily see her reading certain books on her own by the end of the school year.

I’m pretty sure that this is an advance on how I learned how to read. My parents read to me a lot, but I don’t think we got serious about reading until I entered grade 1. During kindergarten, I seem to recall that my favourite activity was the indoor sandbox.

Programs such as Sesame Street and the Electric Company I supposed helped me prepare to read, but it wasn’t until grade 2, I believe, or late grade 1 before I was at all comfortable reading. I also learned to read by reading out the station names on the walls of the Toronto subway. So, Vivian, I think, is well ahead of me, and I believe that Erin and I and Vivian’s grandparents have done a lot to push her forward, I think the education she’s received, first from UW’s Early Childhood Education Centre, and then from her public school, have really given her a strong base to enjoy school and love learning in the years to come. And for that, I have to tip my hat to the McGuinty government who has, in my opinion, made education a priority of his administration.

It’s a smart investment. It’s paying off now, and it will pay off even more in the years to come, I’m sure.

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