Three times a year we give the kindergarten students "benchmark" tests to see how their pre-reading skills are coming along.
One of the mid-year tests is to see how quickly they can sound out words which we tell them are "make believe" words. There is a real premium on speed. If a kid pauses too long on the words, his or her score will suffer.
One of my scholars was buzzing along reading these nonsense words with good fluency. Then he arrived at the word, "les" the fourth on line three and he paused for quite a few seconds—enough to drop his score. I thought that he might be thinking, as others have done, "Less is a real word. Why did Mr. Gurney say it wasn't a real word?"
Instead he said, "Les is a word. That's my cousin's name."
There's no way to add points to his score for that sort of flexible thinking, but there should be.