Last night was a banner night for the Eldest Chaos Girl, a.k.a. Birdie. At nine-thirty PM, she properly formed the sound of the letter "s" and used it while saying several words. She is six and a half, and until now the letters "s" and "z" have completely eluded her, to her deep frustration. She has done it, she has made that breakthrough.
And that breakthrough kept her up until well past eleven last night, practicing her "S's", the same breakthrough woke her up this morning with a hissy sissy snake sound coming out of her mouth!
On this blog, I have only ever mentioned this speech pathology of hers once. In my book, while it is a problem that has stumped her, it does not define her. Up until a few months ago she was dead set against Speech Therapy, and any conversation I had with her regarding her "s's" would leave her panicked and near tears... enter the beloved and wondrous Mrs W, the Kindergarten teacher with the magic touch. She casually mentioned to Birdie during a Parent/Teacher/Student meeting with the two of us that classmate so-and-so in Birdie's class goes to Speech and loves it. Good enough for the B girl, and so with her blessing I started the wheels in motion and got her in to meet with the school Speech Therapist. From that point on, there was no question that she would qualify, it was all formalities. The Therapist had never actually encountered the particular speech eccentricity that Birdie has. I know this is true, because she told me so, AND because she persisted in referring to the sound that she makes as a sound on the inhale. It isn't. Trust me, I have listened to it for five years. It is an exhaled nasal.
In the end, the T's never got all the way crossed, nor the I's entirely dotted until just before the end of the school year, so Birdie never actually got any therapy. They figured that a week and a half (three appointments) would have confused her more than helped, so they just sent home a packet of summer Speech Therapy homework. Which I thought was pretty great until I looked through it, and realised that it was full of endless ways to encourage her to practice making the sounds correctly, and cute little charts to put nifty stars on for the days that she completes her assignments.
GAGHK! She has never been able to make an "s" sound! What do you mean practice? I was back to square one. Only now I was annoyed!
Birdie is a highly motivated little girl who loves to learn. She also has a little friend who's older brother is homeschooled, and thusly the little girl insists on some schoolin' herself. Plus several of the Chaos's cousins are homeschooled. She and LaLa had begun to pester me for some homeschool this summer.
I have NEVER thought of Homeschool as anything I was interested in doing. At best I had planned on supplementing their plain-old public education with art and a few science projects. Only now the pressure is on. Great. So this week we started with "Plants and Seeds." It was gonna be "Wildflowers" but there wasn't even enough literature in the kids section of the local library to even do a full week on "Flowers," so "P & S" it is. Frankly I think it's pretty funny to hear my kids talking about Monocotyledons, Dicotyledons and Disseminules, so we aren't dumbing down the vocabulary for them... but we generally lose Pearl within her first three thwarted attempts to engage us in a good wrastle while we are hitting the books. We lose LaLa about five minutes later as she hits the pantry for a good snack scrounge (although she can still hear every word, and I think she IS still listening). So last night I didn't feel at all badly about continuing our study of how seeds travel even after the younger two had gone to bed. But after a half an hour of study, plus an expedition outside to see if we could spot any winged disseminules (helicopter seeds) in the local maple trees, I started to cast about for something to distract Birdie from the all-seeds-all-the-time focus she has going. So I brought up the "Speech Therapy Homework Packet" that was awaiting her. I figure that it has "Homework" in the title, so it must have a bit of appeal for the Birdster in her current must-learn-everything mode that she is in.
Ayuh. Sure did.
For a thing that has brought her to tears so many times and completely stumped her, last night it was easy. It was effortless. It was immediate and it felt like a miracle. It is the very first step, and today she mastered the "Z" sound.
Had I mentioned that Birdie is a highly motivated little girl? She is motivated. Talking with her today has been like speaking to a stranger. She doesn't sound like her old self. She is going full bore into the land of "correctly pronouncssssed sssspeech." She is sibilance itsssself. She is thinking, and practicing and I swear it's like Christmas around here for her. I am constantly reminding her that this is a process and she will have to practice long and hard before she gets it right every single time. She is undaunted, and digs away at the practice like her life depended on it.
I am so PROUD of my little Bird