For a reason I’ll never understand, Cordy likes to make people think she’s incapable of doing anything. Ask her to lift something? She’ll strain and grunt and exclaim, “It’s soooooo heavy!” when five minutes before I watched her lift something three times as heavy without any effort. Ask her to count to 10? “I don’t know how” she’ll say even though she was counting to 30 earlier in the day. Ask her to kick a ball and she’ll make a large effort and miss the ball, falling to the ground in defeat, even though she’s an expert at kicking our soccer ball into the net.
Anytime she’s asked to perform on cue, it seems that she suddenly forgets how to do whatever it is you ask her to. This can be a real pain, especially when it comes to cleaning up her toys.
Every Wednesday I volunteer in Cordy’s preschool classroom. I like to help out her teacher, and it gives me a chance to see what Cordy’s doing at school, too. Recently they’ve had a student teacher helping out, and a few weeks ago she asked if she could do a full evaluation on Cordy to gain the practice she needs at this task. I agreed, but warned her that Cordy often likes to underperform.
As expected, Cordy tried to underperform on the first part of the evaluation. When asked if she knew her own name, she sighed “I don’t know” and continued the chain of “I don’t know’s” through the first several questions. Her preschool teacher, a woman Cordy respects, overheard this and sharply told her, “Cordy, you know your name! Answer the questions, you turkey.” At that point Cordy began to answer properly.
This week, the student teacher needed to do the other half of the evaluation, and this time she brought in candy as a reward. For each section Cordy completed, she was given a piece of candy. I watched her evaluation out of the corner of my eye while I helped the other kids with their art projects, wondering if the reward would convince Cordy to cooperate. From what I could tell she was answering most of the questions and doing what she was asked to do.
After I cleaned up, I wandered over to the corner of the room and stood out of Cordy’s sight to watch the remainder of the evaluation. At this point the student was showing Cordy a page words – all of them the names of colors, but all of them in black lettering, so there was no clue to the color name written. She asked Cordy to read each color’s name, and I immediately thought, Wow, she’s doing stuff way over Cordy’s head now…
Imagine my surprise when Cordy looked at the words and started naming them: “Red. Blue. Green. W…w..white. Bl…black. Pink. Yellow.” After naming nearly every color without any help, the page was turned and another page of words greeted her – each was a number spelled out, and they weren’t in order. Cordy got one without any problem, but then stumbled on the next one, because she expected two. She was getting tired and losing focus at this point, but she did manage to name about a third of the numbers with a little help.
Afterwards, I walked over to Cordy’s teacher and said, “I had no idea Cordy could read the names of colors! When did you teach her that?”
Her teacher also looked surprised and said, “We’ve never taught that yet, so she didn’t learn it from me.” We both laughed. “You know,” she added, “I think Cordy can read all of the days of the week, too. I’ve seen her looking at them and pointing to each one as she says the word. She knows a lot more than she lets on.”
The teacher’s aide overheard us, and said, “Just yesterday she read a word on another kid’s shirt. She pointed to his shirt and said ‘trouble’, which was the word written on his shirt.”
Apparently my daughter is starting to read and hasn’t bothered to tell anyone yet. We read books together every day, and I always point to words and ask her what they are, but she never knows. Why she would choose to be so secretive about this skill is a mystery to me, but she proved today that she can read several words, and she is pretty good at sounding out words she doesn’t know, also. The student teacher said she did great on all of the exercises – she’s a smart kid.
Now I wonder what else she knows that she’s holding back from telling us?