I could have called this post “The Scariest/Most Intimidating Part of Homeschooling” (or even of Parenting in general, since one can’t always rely on their school to get it right), and I don’t think I’d be exaggerating. If I were to list the single most important learning skill that I think the kids need to learn to be successful in life in our society as it stands now, it would be reading. Eff up here, and doom your child for the rest of their life.
…That last bit might be a tad exaggerated.
But either way, if you can read, you can learn just about anything you need to know in life (the need to practice for proficency afterwards is the second most important thing to learn). And so, here I am, avid reader, college graduate, veteran, lover of sharks and venomous creatures, open water swimming hobbyist–at least half way intelligent, not easily freaked out–and yet totally freaked out that I will doom my children.
Isn’t that the entire theme of parenting? If you aren’t concerned that you are doing it wrong, you probably are?
But I have found that its not that bad, if you have some sort of guide. And hopefully you started thinking about this reading business before they were even talking (not essential, but it supposedly makes it easier) I strongly recommend a guide (there are tons of books and programs to choose from depending on the level of structure and detail that works for you) because there is actually tons of research indicating what methods are more effective, and a logical order to learning to read. What I don’t recommend is spending big money on fancy programs–you don’t need it.
Also, you might need a reward system. Reading isn’t always its own reward when you are starting out. Its hard. My kids love to be read to. Chickadee isn’t all that motivated on her own to do anything she finds difficult and Sharkbait couldn’t sit still if you glued him to the chair. So a reward system that works is essential for us. Anti-TV and health food purists would shudder, but I use Avatar: the Last Air Bender as a reward for Chickadee and M&Ms for Sharkbait. My motto (and I have so many)–sometimes bribery works!
The books we use:
The Ordinary Parent’s Guide to Teaching Reading
Teaching Kids to Read for Dummies
free kids readers from Kindle
Anything we can find from the library
Other materials we (sometimes) use:
Index cards and markers (don’t buy flashcards, make your own for cheaper!)
dry erase board and/or chalk board (and chalk and markers of course)
letter magnets, scrabble tiles, alphabet cards, etc
squishy bag, pudding finger paints, etc
primary journals for journaling and copywork
The kids like computer based stuff more than flash cards, so I use Google to make slideshows like this one
Read! Build! Write! Mats with scrabble blocks
so…i have so much to say here – i will try to keep it short. If the student doesn’t have dyslexia, everything you say is true. However, dyslexia affects 1/5 the population (which is a lot). I am an avid reader (ph.d. in english for heaven’s sake) but when i tried to teach my son to read, nothing i did would work. The reason: he has dyslexia. His struggles contributed to my decision to quit teaching english to college students and begin tutoring kids with dyslexia. So…for anyone out there, if you try to teach your child to read and it just isn’t working, consider dyslexia. a great site for more info is http://www.brightsolutions.us. Remember, dyslexia means a smart person finds reading hard (it is not a sign of low intelligence – in fact, the opposite is true – dyslexia is associated with a wide variety of intellectual, physical and social gifts). Also, the book, Overcoming Dyslexia by Sally Shaywitz is imperative. And finally, while yes, there are lots of methods out there, the ONLY methods that work for readers with dyslexia subscribe to an Orton-Gillingham philosophy (which means multisensory). The method I use to very successfully teach dyslexic learners (including my 15 yr. old son who reads above grade level now) to read is called Barton Reading (great for home school moms – priced for parents, not for institutions–and although i use this method, i’m not affiliated with this company or anything). OK – this is such a big deal (because most public schools don’t use orton-gillingham methods because of expense) that I just couldn’t let it pass without comment. wew! hope that wasn’t too much info!
and finally – assuming your kids do not have dyslexia, have fun with it! opening their eyes and minds to words and books is a beautiful and exciting thing! 🙂
Thank you! This is great info!! Its not something I know much about, and I’m pretty sure its not something most parents think about right away as a potential issue.
I don’t remember learning to read because mom read to us every day. Because I got hooked on her reading the Oz books to us pretty soon I wanted to read ahead because she kept stopping at the exciting bits and it annoyed me
lol…I don’t really remember learning how to read, but I remember being bored in school because I had already read the book, and the class was still only on the 3rd or 4th chapter, and then I would get in trouble because I didn’t know where we were when it was my turn to read.
Andrea Cordonier said:
We home-schooled two of our four kids for a couple of years (full and part-time), but they are now all in conventional schools. It goes without saying (but I’ll say it again), there are trade offs for both methods and neither is perfect. But if I choose to send them to school then I am buying into the school’s methodologies, benefits and limitations. Husband is the assigned go-to guy for school contact as it can make me crazy at times, although less so in the past couple of years.
Even though all four of our squids came from the same gene pool, they are remarkably different in their personalities and approach to learning. The first three read maniacally, but our fourth – who is 8 1/2 – reads below his knowledge level.
He is highly social, prefers being with people and resists doing anything that isn’t with someone else. He’s not clingy and he has high self-esteem – he’s just social. Both girls and boys love to play with him and other parents always rave. He’s incredibly tactile and learns best by doing and is fascinated by how things work. While he shuns conventional fiction, he will read manuals. If we need something put together, we give it to him. I’ve realized there are so many things to read other than books.
It bothered me quite a bit that he didn’t get hooked on reading, as all of us love to read and we have a house chock-a-block with books and journals. When we all go off to read for quiet time, he doesn’t, which often makes it difficult as a family, particularly on vacations or during the long winters.
I realized recently that it was useless – if not mean – for me/us to harp on him for not being cut from the same cloth. He needs tools, things to take apart, space to play with his friends and maybe even his own space in the workshop. He needs what HE needs and not what I want him to need. We are happier as parents when we really, really grasped what that meant. It’s not about fairness (to the parents) or about spoiling the child (not an issue).
It’s been about refusing to butt heads and learning to manage our expectations. Plenty of room for improvement there 🙂