Homeschooling: Reading Lessons Part 2

Posted by Lisa Stevens on

The last blog post I finished off with the reasons why we started homeschooling and Adrianna's journey. I said there are 4 more kids to come, with very different journeys than hers...and really from each other.


Each child is so unique in what "method" of homeschooling works best for them. Like I mentioned in the last one, to me the most important thing I can teach my children academically is to read. I believe once someone can read, their whole world is opened up and they can (in theory) learn anything they wish. (Sure, there are hands on/technical learning that can only happen when actually doing...but even those usually start with reading/learning about the subject before getting hands on.) 




At one time, I believed all children should/could learn to read at a very young age. So, I started almost all (I will explain as I go on) at 4-5 years old. It worked well for Adrianna (she was ready) as well as Amadeus (he was ready), but when it was time for Allora to learn, she was not ready, but yet, Adaliah who was 18 months younger, was. It was an eye opening experience for me. I was teaching them at the same time, and Adaliah was picking up way quicker than Allora. I watched Allora, it was frustrating for her because she did not care to be corrected, if she did not get all the words right the first time, she essentially gave up and I could get no more work out of her. So, I backed off. I researched and learned that there were whole countries (Sweden, Finland, South Africa, Singapore are examples) who did not even start any formal education before the age of 7,  which have had lots of success. They are not "behind" when it comes to other countries, the kids learn all they need to. 



What I discovered with Allora is that some kids just need more time to process and let the lessons "click", maybe because they are not ready or maybe because they are a perfectionist who is not ok making mistakes. (And so much of learning is all about allowing yourself to make the mistakes). I tried several times over the next few years to do some formal lessons, but as soon as the frustration started, I backed off....knowing that one day she would be ready/willing to learn. That came when she was 8...well into her 8th year. She decided she wanted to learn and that was it, it clicked for her and within a few months she was reading novels. 



This was a huge deal to me. I have always loved reading (I read for enjoyment, whether it is textbooks or novels or everything in between....) I want to pass that love of reading on to my children, with the first two it worked...they were both avid readers (not so much now, since they both have jobs/lives)....So, when Allora came along, it really challenged my ideals about reading. But I am so glad I took her lead and waited until she was ready. I knew no matter what, I was not going to let her get to adulthood without learning to read (I knew it was not any issue with disability, it was more of a personality issue), and I knew we would not be sending her to public school...so I just went with the flow and let her learn at her own pace. If she had been in public school, she would have been forced into learning....which would have not been a good experience and thus she may have forever hated reading. I have talked with so many people over the years that were forced into learning before they were ready and now reading holds no enjoyment for them....I did not want that for any of my children. 

 

The way it played out in our house (and believe me, not everyone was on board with my let's take it slow and wait approach)....but now, seeing the other side, the outcome, everyone knows that was the best approach to take. Allora loves reading, she is rather particular about what she reads, she prefers books about dog training to anything else, and for novels she loves dystopian (which is great, I love those too!)....but overall she can read (the last time I "tested" her she was in grade 5 or 6 and was testing at an upper high school level for reading comprehension) and she enjoys it. She uses her spare time researching things, dogs, geckos, fish...mainly animals hahaha, but she learned how to care for them, train them, habitat for them....all of that is possible because she reads and enjoys reading. Which, I believe, would not have been possible if I had not let her learn at her own pace. 



Now, saying that, it is not that we did not do non-formal reading lessons....as we went through our day, played games, things like that, I still was teaching her reading skills. But the formal training took a back seat until she was ready. We read books all the time, picture books, read aloud novels....she was exposed to books on a daily basis. Which helped fire her love of reading, even before she could read. 



Like I mentioned, Adaliah picked up on it right away. I did not hold her back, even though her older sister was not getting it. I explained that everyone learns at different rates, and made sure never to shame Allora for not knowing and never to praise Adaliah unnecessarily in front of Allora, just because she picked up on it sooner. We never withheld praise, but we were careful in our wording, as to not make Allora feel bad....cause she had no reason to feel bad, she was learning lots of things in the meantime. :) 





So, four of my children are reading....I have one left to teach. He just turned 8, we are currently working on it. We are using a different reading program than I have used with any of the other 4. We did not even start until this year, because he has Apraxia of Speech (this is a whole blog in itself....) but basically it means he has issues with speaking/being able to say sounds correctly. Until this year, teaching him to read would have been next to impossible....because he could not produce many phonetic sounds, how do you teach someone to read if I, the teacher, cannot understand what it is they are trying to say. So, we waited...and now is the time, he still has a few sounds he has issues with, but overall he is doing much better (lots of speech therapy and practice) and I decided it was time. It is going slow....he gets frustrated some days, but other days he is able to keep up with the lessons. I am happy with the progression, even if it is not quick, we are working away and I am positive by the end of the year he will be a reader. He loves stories, getting books read to him and is excited/willing/wanting to be reading on his own, and I personally, think that is the biggest roadblock for teaching a child to read, that they want to learn for themselves, not cause I want him to...but because he wants to learn. And I know there are children with disabilities that make reading harder (his technically does not...just makes/made it harder for me to teach him) but if they want to learn, and you use what is available to help them through their disabilities, they can learn, as well. 



Overall, do I have it right? Is my way of teaching reading the only way? Nope, but for our family it is the right way. And I wonder how I would be coping with Adonijah's reading if I had not gone through Allora's. I would have probably tried to push him before it was beneficial or worried that, in the end, the outcome would not have been good. But because his older sister, with no disabilities, took her time and is where she is now (an avid reader with a love of reading), I was able to set aside any expectations I may have had and let him learn when he was 1) ready and 2) physically able. It is a current work in progress but I know it will happen and I try not to stress too much. 



And that in itself, is the main reason I love homeschooling. I do not need to worry that my children are not getting the schooling tailored to them, cause I do it. There is no unwarranted pressure on them (we do give pressure when it is appropriate....for example: we have work they have to finish and things they have to learn...but I look at them as a whole person and decide what the best approach is for them....whereas in a school setting, there are kids "behind" and "ahead"....at our house they are just learning.) 



Have you ever thought about homeschooling? Do you homeschool? I know lots of people through Covid have given it a go...if you started because of Covid, do you think you will continue? Or is it just not right for you? (Which is valid, it is not for everyone....) :) 


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