When the boys were tiny newborns, I made a decision to do my best not to compare them to Juliana. She was the baby that beat every milestone by weeks and even months. She slept through the night at 8 weeks old. She was the best baby in almost every way. The boys arrived as a pair and it was at least double the work those early months. If I hadn’t kept a notebook handy I would have no idea when they reached any of their milestones that first year – keeping track of one baby on minimal sleep is difficult enough, I would never remember two sets of milestones and which date belonged to which boy.
While comparing siblings is avoidable, it is nearly impossible not to compare the boys even though I try. They are both boys and they are the same age and they have the same basic routine – it’s easy to spot the differences.
When the second 12-weeks of Kindergarten started in December, the boys started to come home with sets of sight words (the, and, that, it, on, etc.). They are using a system of Rainbow Words where each set of words is a color and you move through the rainbow as you advance through each set.
The flash cards with the red words went back and forth to school for a few weeks and then suddenly something clicked with Wyatt. The red words were moved to his “words I know” ring and we were reviewing orange words each night. Within a week he came home with yellow words. At home he was asking to practice his words and when we were reading together he was interested in reading more of the pages. This was a huge change to the struggle that had been reading and homework.
Meanwhile Ruslan was still practicing his red words and it was a chore to get him to practice them or to sit and read with me. He also made this statement in reference to reading. “They have all of these games at school to make it seem like learning is fun; but they are tricking us, it isn’t fun.” The combination of these two things prompted me to email his Kindergarten teacher. And of course I couldn’t help but mention one of my concerns – Wyatt is way ahead of Ruslan, does that mean that Ruslan is falling behind where he should be?
Much to my surprise, she replied that Ruslan is in the highest reading group in the class! She did agree that reading is not his favorite; math remains his true scholastic love. When we talked this week she told me that Ruslan will help the other students in his group with math and explain how to solve problems. He is loved by everyone in his class and is always the first student picked when they need to choose a partner.
Last night Ruslan was reading Green Eggs and Ham and when I walked in the room I heard counting instead of words – rather than read the words his preferred activity is counting a common element in a book. In this case he closed the book and yelled, the work “I” is in this book 96 times!
School, where success is measured in numbers, is going to be the biggest challenge when it comes to comparing them. I need to remind myself they have different strengths and weaknesses and let them learn at their own pace.