When Older Children Struggle With Reading

When Older Children Struggle With Reading

During my time as a classroom teacher, I taught a variety of different grade levels in a seven-year span. While this had its challenges, it also allowed me to experience first hand the ways that literacy instruction differed in primary and upper grades.

My initial teaching experinces were in the primary classroom. I have a strong background in early literacy development and I taught first and second grade for four years.

 

In the primary classroom, identifying reading difficulties is fairly straightforward. Maybe not why a child struggles or specific disabilities like dyslexia, but at least identifying that a child is struggling is simple for a classroom teacher. In kindergarten through about mid-third grade, students read aloud, all the time. Almost every literary activity is oral. They read to partners, read to stuffed animals, read to a teacher, segment sounds out loud. When students are learning to read, it is a noisy process.

 

When a student struggles, you can hear it. You hear that they mix up their b’s and d’s, or that they make the short i sound in the word hen. You ask them questions about what they are reading, and they answer out loud. You follow up to determine what specific comprehension skills they struggle with.

 

At home, students read out loud to their parents. If your child struggles with their reading, you know. You can identify if they are missing words or don’t understand the text. In short, the process of learning to read is a loud one. A beautiful, exciting, and noisy undertaking.

 

After my four years in the primary classroom, I moved up to 5th grade and then eventually to 7th and 8th grade reading. As I moved out of the primary classroom, I noticed a distinctive shift, reading became a silent, internal process. Students were very rarely asked to read out loud, and as a result, identifying reading difficulties became much more difficult.

 

Think about it, if you have a child in 4th grade or higher, when is the last time you had them read out loud to you? As students internalize the reading process, it becomes silent. While this is a natural progression, it can do a major disservice to older readers who struggle.

 

As I have moved on in my career to become an online reading clinician, I have noticed that many parents of older children don’t know why they struggle with reading or what their specific struggles are. Usually, I hear that they struggle with comprehension. However, when I have the student read a text out loud to me, I find that in reality, their reading level is low. They can comprehend texts at their instructional level, but their instructional level is below grade level.

 

When asked to read grade level text silently in class, they cannot answer comprehension questions correctly. In many cases, this may not be due to a comprehension issue necessarily but is due to the fact that they cannot accurately and fluently read the text. Without asking the student to read aloud, this can often go undetected for months or even years.

 

In order to serve the student and increase their reading skills, the correct diagnosis of the issue is essential. This is why the reading clinicians at RW&C give each student a variety of assessments to determine the underlying reading issue. Our online tutoring program is then adjusted to fit the needs of each student in order to ensure reading success.

 

Older students are given phonics assessments to determine if the issue is related to letter sounds. They are also given fluency and comprehension assessments as well as writing and phonemic awareness activities. Simply because a child is older does not mean that they have mastered all the basic skills necessary to become fluent and competent readers.

 

I have often heard that when it comes to reading, it is not the age, it’s the stage. This could not be more true. It does not matter how old a child is or even what their grade level in school is. If they have not mastered the basics of reading, they need direct instruction.

 

Coming from a classroom background, I know that often upper-grade teachers are not trained in early literacy and often do not have the resources that students need to master early reading skills. If your older child struggles with reading, they may not get the help they need in school.

 

With our one-on-one online tutoring program, we can help your child whatever their reading issue. Our clinicians are trained in all aspects of literacy instruction and can tailor their sessions to meet the needs of your child. Don’t wait and hope that they will catch up, get them the help they need today.

 

Contact us to get started and learn more about our online tutoring program.

Becky Welsch
RW&C, LLC
www.rwc4reading.com






Becky Welsch has a Master’s degree in K-8 Education. She is certified to teach in the state of Arizona and has special endorsements in the areas of English Language Learners and Reading.

Becky has worked with struggling readers in the primary as well as secondary grades. Her experience also includes intensive reading intervention both in person as well as with online teletherapy.
Becky has experience with early literacy skills like phonics and phonemic awareness development. She has used several structured literacy programs including Language! and Spalding phonics. She is also trained to administer DIBELS tests and has worked with the DIBELS Next reading remediation program.
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Reading Comprehension: Putting It All Together

girl-277719__340, CC0_pixabayIn previous blogs, we’ve discussed the importance of phonemic awareness, phonics, vocabulary (morphology), and fluency. Today, we’re going to examine how these components work together to develop the most important reading skill of all, comprehension. The ability to read words and sentences is a critical step to comprehension. However, years of research have demonstrated that accurately reading words and sentences does not automatically transfer to understanding the material read.

Reading comprehension, simply put, is the ability to understand and gain information from what you read. It is an important step in the reading process as children move beyond learning to read and start the invaluable skill of reading to learn.

As children reach about the third grade, they should have a solid reading foundation. The focus of their instruction will no longer be on sounding out words but rather on gaining meaning from text. Putting the pieces together to develop a deeper understanding of literature and non-fiction text. Some key elements for strong reading comprehension involve vocabulary development, both oral and written, inference, and text structure. These higher order thinking skills along with decoding are imperative in order to gain meaning from reading the text.

favicon_starfishAs a side note, but a very important one, if your child is still struggling with phonological awareness, phonics, or fluency in the third grade, it is essential that you get them help from trained reading clinicians. Without these skills, it is unlikely that they will be successful and will fall further behind in school.

Although comprehension becomes the main focus of reading instruction in the third grade, it is an important component beginning in preschool. Comprehension difficulties usually fall in one of two categories. The first category of inaccurate word decoding skills will limit a student’s ability to understand the meaning of what was read. The second category for poor comprehension is demonstrated by weak language skills, understanding our spoken language and its subtleties. A student may encounter challenges with word reading, understanding the vocabulary and subtleties of our spoken language, or a combination of both.

Here are a few ways that you can help support and enhance your child’s reading comprehension skills.

  1. Always ask your child about what they are reading. Ask who the characters are, what the setting is, what problem the characters face, and what the solution is in fiction text. If your child is reading nonfiction, ask them what the topic of the text is, what the main idea is, and have them prove it to you by showing you examples in the text. These skills are perhaps the simplest and most foundational reading comprehension skills. If your child struggles with these even as young as kindergarten and first grade, it is not too early to get them online reading tutoring. Intervention from a trained reading clinician can help them stay on track and ensure they do not struggle later. If your child is older, say second grade or higher and cannot answer these types of questions, you should absolutely contact a reading clinician to have their comprehension assessed.
  1. Help your child create mental images, when appropriate. One of the most important comprehension skills is the ability to create pictures while you read. When you read with your child, ask them about what they are picturing in their mind as you read. Always ground their mental images in the text by asking why they picture what they do. Have them point out specific words or lines of text that informed their mental imaging.
  1. Encourage your child to ask questions. Before, during, and after reading you can encourage your child to ask questions about the text. For example, if they are reading a fiction text, you could ask what they think will happen, why a character is behaving the way they are, or what the characters could have done differently. In nonfiction text, you can ask them what they may know about the topic, what information is the author focusing on, or about any unanswered questions they have about the topic. This can be a great way to encourage further research on a topic that interests them.

bef6b-mosaic2bbooks2bto2bideasAs your child gets older and moves into upper elementary and middle school, you can encourage them to use post it notes as they read to ask questions, record unknown vocabulary words, and note any surprising information. This can be a great way for them to interact with the text and for you to monitor their understanding. Plus almost all kids love getting to use post it notes so it may even motivate them to read more.

These are a few ways that you can encourage your child to use comprehension strategies before, during, and after reading. They are essential for helping students understand what they read and gain information from text.

As students get older, this is the most important and most emphasized skill in school. Nearly all standardized text reading questions directly related to reading comprehension. It is also the most important skill that adults use regularly to function in society.

dictionary-390055__340, CC0_pixabayOur online tutoring program at RW&C incorporates reading comprehension as soon as our students are reading. Each and every lesson includes a time for reading a passage and applying a clinician selected and modeled reading strategy. Students who need comprehension instruction are given explicit instruction in that strategy, and their practice is monitored.

We also employ comprehension strategies at the sentence level if students are not developmentally ready to read an entire passage. When your child works with one of our reading clinicians, they will get the comprehension instruction that they need.

Unlike a box program or pre-recorded program, our clinicians respond to your child in real time, clearing up any misunderstandings and ensuring that your child understands their passage as they are reading it. We also work with you to practice these skills at home in a meaningful way.

If your child struggles with reading comprehension, get them the help they need today. Contact us for a screening to determine if your child needs intervention.

Becky Welsch

RW&C, LLC

www.rwc4reading.com






Becky Welsch has a Master’s degree in K-8 Education. She is certified to teach in the state of Arizona and has special endorsements in the areas of English Language Learners and Reading.

Becky has worked with struggling readers in the primary as well as secondary grades. Her experience also includes intensive reading intervention both in person as well as with online teletherapy.
Becky has experience with early literacy skills like phonics and phonemic awareness development. She has used several structured literacy programs including Language! and Spalding phonics. She is also trained to administer DIBELS tests and has worked with the DIBELS Next reading remediation program.

Morphology: A Critical Component In Reading Development

Caribbean starfish over sand beachLearning to read is a complex process that requires children to perform multiple mental tasks simultaneously. One critical component of the reading process is morphological awareness. A morpheme is the smallest meaningful unit of language. For example, in is a morpheme and the word jumping has two morphemes, .

In their article “Morphological Awareness Intervention for Students Who Struggle with Language and Literacy,” Julie A. Wolter and Ginger Collins examine the connection between reading performance and morphological interventions. The authors demonstrate that for students to be able to learn to read and comprehend text, they need to have an explicit awareness of morphological processes. That is, students need to be aware of word parts like base words, prefixes, and suffixes and have direct knowledge of their meaning. There is a direct link between morphological awareness and an increased ability to read and write proficiently.

The connect between morphological understanding, and reading skills were even more apparent in students with dyslexia and other specific learning disabilities. Students who received direct and explicit interventions related to morphological awareness had better reading skills and were more likely to be proficient readers. Direct morphological instruction has also been linked to an increased sight word reading speed as well as increased decoding abilities, both of which lead to increased reading fluency and comprehension.

dictionary-390055__340, CC0_pixabayIf a child struggles to understand and manipulate morphemes, their reading will become labored, and comprehension will suffer, especially as they get older and the complexity of the texts they are reading increases. It is imperative that any intervention program has an explicit morphology component introduced in the initial lesson to help struggling readers enhance their skills.

In our online tutoring program, each and every lesson includes a morphology component introduced in the first lesson. Wolter and Collins identified a few critical skills students need when it comes to morphology. The first key understanding each student must have is the ability to segment words into their respective morphemes. For example, when giving the word , they need to be able to identify that it is composed of and to form the new word coming.

In each and every lesson beginning with the first session, our trained reading clinicians explicitly show students how to break words apart into appropriate morphological segments. Using a graphic organizer to help categorize the material, students are asked to break words apart into prefixes, base words, and suffixes. Each morpheme is color coded to help organize the information in a meaningful manner that will lead to an increase in reading skills. This instruction starts from the initial lesson and continues through all lessons.

girl-277719__340, CC0_pixabayA second skill the authors identify is the ability to combine base words and various prefixes and suffixes to make new words. In our online tutoring program, clinicians and students examine different prefixes and suffixes with a variety of base words to create new combinations with a variety of meanings. For example, using the base words <struc, struct> students can build and determine the meaning of a plethora of words like construct, construction, instruct, instructor, destruct, and many, many more.

Finally, Wolter and Collins suggest that students must have explicit instruction in the meanings of a variety of base words and affixes. Once students know these meanings, they can use this knowledge as an anchor to learn new words. For example, knowing that <sect, sec, seg> means “to cut,” and means “two”, students can determine that the meaning of bisect is “to cut into two”. This has a clear link to increasing vocabulary skills which aid in comprehension of higher level texts and is crucial for advanced reading comprehension.

During our online sessions, our reading clinicians provide direct, explicit instruction on the meaning of a variety of base words and affixes. Each lesson contains a variety of morphemes that students learn and has multiple examples of these morphemes in words. For instance, during a lesson in our program, students work with the prefix and learn that it means “between, among.” They are then asked to apply this knowledge to understand the meaning of words like interrupt, interstate, and interpersonal. In doing so, they have the opportunity to practice manipulating morphemes which will increase their vocabulary and their reading abilities.

learn-921255__340-cc0_pixabayIf your child struggles with new vocabulary words and morphological skills, it is not something they will learn on their own. They need direct, explicit reading tutoring from a trained professional. Here at RW&C, our clinicians are up to date on the latest reading research, and they apply these best practices in every one of their lessons. Our program has a strong morphological component, introduced in the first lesson, and our clinicians are trained in the best methods to explicitly teach this skill to students.

Don’t let your child fall further and further behind due to a gap in morphological understanding. Contact us today to set up online tutoring and get your child the help they need to be successful. With the right instruction and a program based on best practices in reading research, your child will acquire the tools necessary to succeed.

Timmie Murphy

RW&C, LLC

www.rwc4reading.com

(480) 213-4156

 
 
 
 


Timmie Murphy has dedicated most of her adult life to individuals with special needs. She has taught children with learning challenges in the classroom for over 11 years.
Timmie has experience working with individuals diagnosed with dyslexia, learning disabilities, cognitive and neurological disorders, Attention Deficit Disorder, Pervasive Developmental Disorders, including Asperger’s Syndrome and Autism.


Timmie Murphy is the founder and owner of RW&C, LLC. She is a graduate of St. Mary’s Dominican College with a B.A. in Elementary Education and Special Education

Helping Your Child with Reading: Phonemic Awareness Part Two

 

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Phonemic awareness is the foundation of reading success; however, many parents have not heard of this skill. Phonemic awareness is the ability to hear and manipulate sounds in words without the association with specific letters. A young child’s ease in acquiring reading skills is closely related to strong phonemic awareness skills. One way to think about phonemic awareness activities is that you should be able to do them in the dark. There is no need to read or use letters, just sounds.

 

Your child should begin to understand basic phonemic awareness concepts like rhyming and initial sounds around the age of three. As they advance in the understanding, most kids should master more complex skills like segmentation and substitution around the age of five or six.

 

mosaic-treeEven older children will still need phonemic awareness skills like phoneme and syllable segmentation to read and spell more complex words. If your child struggles with phonemic awareness, it is very likely that they will have reading and spelling difficulties.

 

Here are a few activities you can do to help your child develop phonemic awareness:

 

  • Rhyming games: ask your child to produce words that rhyme with ______. This is a great activity because you can do it anywhere. I often play this with my four-year-old while we drive to school. You can also increase the difficulty by making it a game for points where you take turns and whoever cannot come up with a rhyme loses.
  • Beginning, middle, and ending sounds: Knowing the first sound in a word is important to develop reading skills later. You can say a word and ask your child to repeat the first sound (important note, this is about sounds, NOT letters. If you say bird your child should say the /b/ sound, not the letter name b). You can repeat this activity with ending sounds then middle sounds, which are more difficult to hear. If you are feeling ambitious you can also do initial sound sorts. You can purchase them online or you can create your own. Basically you find objects or pictures that have the same beginning sound. Your child would take two to four beginning sounds, mix them up, and sort them. You can also do this with ending then middle sounds for an extra challenge.
  • Segmenting and blending sounds: According to many experts, these are the most important phonemic awareness skills when it comes to reading development. Children must be able to stretch out sounds in words and put them back together. An easy way to do this is to say a word like cat and have your child tell you the sounds (important note, your child should say /k/ /a/ /t/ the sounds, not spell the word cat). You can also say the sounds in a word and ask your child to put it back together. Another way to practice is to use rubber bands. Have your child hold a rubber band on their thumbs and literally stretch the sounds in a word. Then they can put it back together by blending it into a word. You can also use blocks or other objects you have around the house. Line up the objects and say a word. Have your child pull down an object as they say each sound. The number of objects should match the number of sounds.

Practicing these phonemic awareness skills with your child will strengthen their understanding of the foundational elements of reading. If you have an older child who struggles with reading, you might try some of these activities to see if they are able to do them. Keep in mind that phonemic awareness skills are well established by the age of 5 for students who are not at-risk for reading problems. Typically, students as young as kindergarten and first grade are able to manipulate sound patterns without difficulty; however, bright older students may have difficulty with these tasks.  Maturation does not lead to spontaneous development of phonemic awareness.

 

748fa-alphabet-1219546__340252c2bcc0_pixabayIf you child struggles with these activities or other phonemic awareness skills, it is imperative that you get them help from a reading specialist trained in structured language therapy (formerly known as Orton Gillingham method). This underlying elemental skill is essential for the acquisition of reading and spelling. Without phonemic awareness skills, your child will always struggle with reading and spelling.

 

Our online tutoring program offers phonemic awareness instruction with each and every session utilizing structured language therapy during live video conferencing. Our trained clinicians understand this foundational concept and its importance in improving reading and spelling at every level. Phonemic awareness is necessary in order for phonics to make sense. Watch for our blog on phonics coming soon! If you want to learn more about phonemic awareness, contact our office today.

 

 

Becky Welsch

RW&C, LLC

www.rwc4reading.com






Becky Welsch has a Master’s degree in K-8 Education. She is certified to teach in the state of Arizona and has special endorsements in the areas of English Language Learners and Reading.

Becky has worked with struggling readers in the primary as well as secondary grades. Her experience also includes intensive reading intervention both in person as well as with online teletherapy.
Becky has experience with early literacy skills like phonics and phonemic awareness development. She has used several structured literacy programs including Language! and Spalding phonics. She is also trained to administer DIBELS tests and has worked with the DIBELS Next reading remediation program.
Helping Your Child With Reading: Phonemic Awareness

Helping Your Child With Reading: Phonemic Awareness

 

learn-921255__340-cc0_pixabayPhonemic awareness is the foundation of reading success; however, many parents have no idea what it even is. Phonemic awareness is the ability to hear and manipulate sounds in words without the association with specific letters. One way to think about phonemic awareness activities is that you should be able to do them in the dark. There is no need to read or use letters, just sounds.

 

Your child should begin to understand basic phonemic awareness concepts like rhyming and initial sounds around the age of three. As they advance in the understanding, most kids should master more complex skills like segmentation and substitution around the age of five or six.

 

Even older children will still need phonemic awareness skills like phoneme and syllable segmentation to read and spell more complex words. If your child struggles with phonemic awareness, it is very likely that they will have reading difficulties.

 

mosaic-booksHere are a few activities you can do to help your child develop phonemic awareness:

 

  • Rhyming games: ask your child to produce words that rhyme with ______. This is a great activity because you can do it anywhere. I often play this with my four-year-old while we drive to school. You can also increase the difficulty by making it a game for points where you take turns and whoever cannot come up with a rhyme loses.

 

  • Beginning, middle, and ending sounds: Knowing the first sound in a word is important to develop reading skills later. You can say a word and ask your child to repeat the first sound (important note, this is about sounds, NOT letters. If you say bird your child should say the /b/ sound, not the letter name b). You can repeat this activity with middle and ending sounds. If you are feeling ambitious you can also do initial sound sorts. You can purchase them online or you can create your own. Basically you find objects or pictures that have the same beginning sound. Your child would take two to four beginning sounds, mix them up, and sort them. You can also do this with middle and ending sounds for an extra challenge.

 

  • Segmenting and blending sounds: According to many experts, these are the most important phonemic awareness skills when it comes to reading development. Children must be able to stretch out sounds in words and put them back together. An easy way to do this is to say a word like cat and have your child tell you the sounds (important note, your child should say /k/ /a/ /t/ the sounds, not spell the word cat). You can also say the sounds in a word and ask your child to put it back together. Another way to practice is to use rubber bands. Have your child hold a rubber band on their thumbs and literally stretch the sounds in a word. Then they can put it back together by blending it into a word. You can also use blocks or other objects you have around the house. Line up the objects and say a word. Have your child pull down an object as they say each sound. The number of objects should match the number of sounds.

 

748fa-alphabet-1219546__340252c2bcc0_pixabayPracticing these phonemic awareness skills with your child will strengthen their understanding of the foundational elements of reading. If you have an older child who struggles with reading, you might try some of these activities to see if they are able to do them.

 

If you child struggles with these activities or other phonemic awareness skills, it is imperative that you get them help from a reading professional. Without phonemic awareness skills, your child will always struggle with reading.

 

Our online tutoring program offers phonemic awareness support with each and every session. Our trained clinicians understand this foundation concept and can use it to help with reading and spelling at every level. If you want to learn more or need to know more about phonemic awareness, contact our office today.

 

 

 

Becky Welsch

RW&C, LLC

www.rwc4reading.com






Becky Welsch has a Master’s degree in K-8 Education. She is certified to teach in the state of Arizona and has special endorsements in the areas of English Language Learners and Reading.

Becky has worked with struggling readers in the primary as well as secondary grades. Her experience also includes intensive reading intervention both in person as well as with online teletherapy.
Becky has experience with early literacy skills like phonics and phonemic awareness development. She has used several structured literacy programs including Language! and Spalding phonics. She is also trained to administer DIBELS tests and has worked with the DIBELS Next reading remediation program.

Letters To My Two Year Old: Dear E

My fourth guest author is Anne.  Anne a single mother to two year old E. Anne’s husband passed away when E was two months old. I met Anne through an online parenting group and I have been blown away by her grace, intelligence, dedication, and general bad assness (it’s a word, trust me). She is an avid runner and architect who can fix almost anything that breaks in her home, works multiple jobs, and still manages to find time to be a amazing parent. This letter expresses her love for her daughter and how E saved Anne during one of the hardest times of her life. I hope you enjoy its beauty as much as I do. You might need some Kleenex for this one.

2013-10-27 14.24.31

Dear E,

I can say, without any exaggeration, that you saved my life. There are things that happened that caused my legs to give out from underneath me because the weight of them was so debilitating. At that moment I knew I will never stand up again…and then you started crying because you were hungry. So I stood up and fed you. Just when I was about to collapse again I realized you needed to be changed and then fed again. After a day of feeding, napping, walking, talking, tummy time, and cuddles I realized that I never had time to fall back down. For a year that is what we did. You needed me and I was there. Our world was small and because of you I was able to keep my feet under me and put one foot in front of the other. We got through that first year and now through the second.

You have grown into such a intelligent and creative young girl who is finds everything interesting and entertaining. Your happiness and curiosity are immeasurable and your stubbornness is impressive. I have looked at everyday things through your eyes and found enjoyment in events and things that I would have never glanced at before.

There are things that I will never tell you and some stories that you do not need to hear. These are mine to carry as your parent. I will try to walk the fine line of what information you need to know to thrive and what I need to protect you from. I am sure that I will fall off this line many times but I will try my hardest to help you as you have helped me.

We are very lucky my smart and beautiful child. There are so many people who support us; neighbors, friends, family, and friends who have become like family. All of these people love you. I love you and your daddy loves you. He is not here anymore but he still loves you and watches over you every day. I will be there while you learn about the events and your mind is able to expand around the understanding of what happened. I will hold your hand as we walk down this road. I will carry whenever you ask.

You loving mother,

Anne

Letters To My Two Year Old: Dear Kylie

I am so excited to bring you my third guest author in the series, Kim. I love Kim’s letter because it really shows how our kiddos can help us overcome adversity and make us better people. I’ll let Kim introduce herself and her sweet baby girl.

Hello, I’m Kim!  I’m a fifth grade teacher currently on maternity leave, enjoying my time at home with my two year old, Kylie and my three month old, Andrew.  Kylie is hilarious, smart, athletic, and has an incredible sweet tooth.  When I ask her what she wants for breakfast, she excitedly exclaims, “I WANT CANDY!”  She is definitely my kid.  In the last six months, she endured a lot of changes, and she handled them all so gracefully, sort of.

In December, my husband quit his job and left home for the State Police Academy.  For 23 weeks, he was away all week without contact.  He came home on the weekends, basically to do laundry and study.

In March, we welcomed Andrew to our family.  This was also the time when Kylie started showing a lot of interest in the potty.  I thought to myself, I’m home, we have the time, let’s do it.  So we did!  Once we had a handle on potty training, we moved Kylie to her big girl bed in her new room.  I’m making all of this sound easy.  Each change was more difficult than the last, but Kylie was a rockstar through it all.

I keep a journal in my nightstand for Kylie telling her what we’ve been up to and basically how awesome she is.  I write her a letter four or five times a year, or whenever I get the chance.  Here is my letter to Kylie about this crazy and tough time in our lives.  I couldn’t have survived it without her.

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Dear Kylie,

Hooray!  Daddy is now a State Trooper!!  But YOU, Kylie Grace, are the real trooper.

The week Daddy left for the Academy, I cried every night while I rocked you to sleep.  I don’t know why.  I was pregnant, so it was probably hormones, but I was so afraid that you’d miss him.  You didn’t notice that I was sad, and I’m pretty sure you didn’t even notice he was gone.  On Friday nights, you’d say, “Daddy’s home!!!” and we would proceed with our Friday night dance party like he had been there all the time, Daddy on the guitar, and you on the microphone singing Billy Joel’s “For the Longest Time.”

The day Andrew was born, you came to the hospital with Nana and Papa.  You welcomed him by putting stickers all over his blanket.  At first you weren’t impressed at all, but over the last few months, you’ve become a great big sister.  First thing in the morning you look for him and ask, “Where’s Andrew?  Let’s find him!”  You rub his head gently, you tickle his belly, and when you want me all to yourself you point your little finger at me and demand, “Put Andrew bed!”  Just last week, you thought Andrew was hungry, so you let him suck on your big toe.  He thought it was awesome!  I was horrified.

Right after Andrew was born, we started potty training, which all of the parenting books tell you NOT to do.  I now know why.  You peed on every square inch of the house and you were afraid to poop.  You’d scream and run in circles like a dog until finally, a big poop fell out of your bum where ever you happened to be standing.  You even pooped while running!  I didn’t even know that was possible!  t thought it would never get better, but we trudged through, and now when you poop on the potty, you can’t wait to sneak a peak at your prize and exclaim, “Oh, it’s just a little guy!”

After we mastered the potty, I moved you into your big girl bed. The first week, you looked at me with eyes filled with tears and begged to sleep in the crib.  I was heartbroken, but everyone told me it would get easier if we stuck with the bed.  And it did.  Now, when I tuck you in at night, you remind me, “Do not get up!”  And I say, “That’s right!  Don’t get up.”  Then you put your little hands on the back of my neck and pull my face to yours and you say softly, “I love you Momma.”  And I say, “I love you more.”

We survived.  I survived.  Because of you.

I love you more.

What about you? What are some difficult situations or changes that your kiddos have helped you through? How have they made you a better person?