Thursday, August 28, 2008

Learning to Read

Bloggers are talking about the first day of school, and that brings back some memories for all of us. My first school experiences are a little different than most.

I attended the first Catholic school in Prince William county, Virginia. The school (All Saints Catholic) was started in a room in the Benedictine convent called Linton Hall.

The chapel at St. Benedict Convent in Bristow, VA from

My first year of school was also the first year for the school. There were two grades in one room--kindergarten and first. Our teacher, Sister Ernestine, taught both grades. She went on to become the Mother Superior of the convent; back in 1957 she was young, lively and fun. I adored her and decided I would grow up to be a nun just like her. How surprising to read that she celebrated her 60th year as a nun in 2004.

I had no clue of what school was about. I know I could read already, although I did not know the alphabet--I'm not sure how I learned to read but it seems to have always been something I did. Possibly I mimicked my older brothers and learned how to decipher words in some way from them. I especially recall Sister Ernestine teaching us the letter "B." Now I knew what a bee looked like so when she drew the letter on the blackboard, I promptly wrote it sideways, laying down on its flat side.

Sister stopped at my desk, puzzled.

"What is that?"

"It's a bee," I said.

"No, you make a B like this." She demonstrated on my paper.

"But they fly like this." I drew my bee, adding wings because hers didn't have any and I could not see how it would fly like that.

"This is a different B," she explained. "Try doing it like I did."

"Okay." I made a B like hers, but did not understand why it was so important to make a bee that flew straight up. I'd never seen one do that.

I'm not sure when the concept of the alphabet finally sank in. But I do remember reading from my reading book on the first day of school, taking it home and finishing it that night. I may not have known what the letters were, but I knew how they worked.

Do you remember learning to read? What do you recall about it?


Anonymous said...

I remember my big sister Sue teaching me to read!

Granny Sue said...

Wow! I'd forgotten that, Theresa. But I remember now that we played school, didn't we?

how funny, the things you forget.

tipper said...

I don't really remember learning to read-but reading was always my favorite thing about school. I'm still a read-aholic.

Love the B memory-makes perfect sense to me too.

Mary said...

I love your bee/B story! (and your teacher's sweet way of correcting you). I hope you find many opportunities to share it.
I have been told that I memorized a book of nursery rhymes so well that my uncle thought I could read, and I did love reading from early on. My niece figured out her first words in a coloring book -- if the word has to be a color, it makes the choices much simpler. When we told her she was reading, she said, "I can read," and headed for the bookcase. She was so disappointed that she couldn't read everything quite yet.

Tracey said...

Love the "B" story.
I don't remember learning to read, but as far back as I can remember I have loved it!

Granny Sue said...

It is interesting that many of us don't remember the learning process. How did we know those letters and their sounds? I think it's fascinating how people learn to read at all. There's no reason to the English language, certainly!

City Mouse said...

That chapel is gorgeous, and Sister sounds really interesting. I don't remember the mechanics of learning to read as much as I remember being taught, and remember how fond I was of my first teacher.

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