I tell ya…


If I didn’t already know how rewarding this was I would have a really hard time pressing on! My second son is just now beginning to learn to read. It is just barely beginning to take hold in his mind but he is still at the point where he will forget what the the letter “n” says two seconds after going through a whole page and pointing out every “n” and saying its sound when he points at it. It is very frustrating. Not to mention that he has the attention span of a gnat and when he gets frustrated his immediate response is to want to contort his body into a pretzel and shake his head like a wet dog.

I remember this phase with my first son, who admittedly is a different animal altogether. When he was frustrated he would just break down bawling but he was determined. He really wanted to read. This guy needs me to constantly remind him that if he wants to drive a Mustang when he grows up that first he has to learn how to drive and that he can’t do that without knowing how to read and then he has to have a job that can make him enough money to pay for it and he can’t do that without knowing how to read. Or he has to see his three year old brother wanting to learn phonics too and thus be reminded that if he would like to be ahead of his little brother in school he had better get a move on.

He needs motivation other than just learning to read in other words. At this point he really couldn’t care less if he never learns how to read but never being allowed to drive?! At five years old this is already quite the motivation!

Teaching your child to read has got to be one of the more difficult parts of early homeschooling, and yet one of the most rewarding parts. Once the lights come on and their little brains take off with rocket boosters propelling them forward, you feel like you have gone and given them the moon with all of the blood, sweat and tears you put into it (okay… no blood!) With my first son I think I broke down crying a few times a week also until it finally really took hold.

Junior Circus performer here, who would probably prefer to learn to read while riding a unicycle and screaming like a banshee, all the while juggling red hot swords if he could, just ends up making me mad! I would give up now I think if I didn’t already know that this too shall pass and that when all is said and done, he will have a more powerful vehicle than any souped up Mustang, one that will take him to places I can’t even imagine right now — the power to read!

My 7 year old just reminded me of this fact by exhaling a deservedly self-satisfied sigh of accomplishment as he finished reading the last page of his third book in The Chronicles of Narnia. I look back to our times on the couch, where we cried together and vowed to not give up until he had this thing learned and think how amazing it is that he now informs me of things that he has read about so that I am learning from this child that I taught to read.

All of this to say… if you are in this boat with me, remember, never give up! (And please re-remind me of this often as well!) For the satisfaction and the reward we will reap from all of this torturous effort will not return void. Once we are over this first enormous hurtle we can then just enjoy the learning journey that we are on together.

It’s funny because my husband and I are excited by the prospect of, within a year and a half’s time having 0 children in diapers. After 7 years straight of at least one in diapers, this is a concept that we revel in. And now I have already found the milestone in our lives that will replace the dreams of being a diaperless family… being a whole family of readers… ((sigh)) It’s a beautiful thought!

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  1. I found this encouraging. Especially that you were so open about the frustration on your part. And my boy, Chuckles, seems to have the same attention span! All that wiggling – ack!

  2. Never mind the wiggling! You’ll miss it some day! I remember when my oldest , now 17 year old son, was in that learning to read stage…it seemed hard then but it seems so long ago now. He didn’t really ‘catch on’ until he was 7 1/2. We had a lot of struggles…once he caught on though he jumped straight into chapter books. He didn’t spend much time on the simple readers. I’m a bit more relaxed about the whole thing now. I’m just starting to introduce the subject to my 4 yo…It’ll be fun for the third time around! πŸ™‚ I just love homeschool! It sounds like you do too!

  3. Oh yes having a family of readers is beautiful. We recently took a 17 hour car trip (one way). Between the DVD and books…the trip was actually pleasant.

  4. I remember those days…..so very long ago.My boy is a voracious reader. He learned to read almost on his own and at the age of barely 4. I only taught him the phonics. He was already sounding things out.So, when my daughter came along, I expected great things as well…nope! The girl was contrary, and fought me tooth and nail. I would teach her one phonics concept for over a week, and just as I thought it was getting in her little thick skull……she would forget…..sigh.She never really began to read till early into her 4th grade year, when I got her an Amelia Bedilia(?) book. Those fascinated her, and from then on, something just clicked. She is 14 now, and she has just begun reading “The Count of Monte Cristo” in all of it’s 998 page glory!Keep up the good work!!!

  5. I don’t have a whole lot of experience with this, I did not start teaching my oldest to read till he was 51/2 and by then he was more then ready. We used 100 easy lessons and it has been a breeze!!! Now like you mentioned, all of our boys are very different so who knows if 100 easy lessons will work as well for the others. I hope it will!

  6. They definitely are all different! :^D My first started early reading (what my 5 1/2 year old is doing now) when he was not yet four. He did experience little frutstrations along the way (hence the ocassional tears) but over all, he is a very academic child. My second is just so very different. I love him dearly and honestly he is coming along. Today he read about 35 short “a” sound words… but it’s just very difficult for him. I actually think he has some problems with reversals. I had issues like this up into the first grade and needless to say I am a fine reader now. :^) So I’m not losing hope… just sometimes the hard days can get to ya! Thanks for your input and encouragement everyone. Even though it can be (obviously not with all children) one of the most difficult challenges, teaching my children to read is truly one of the most rewarding things. I have been busily bursting my buttons over the first success at it for the past 3 1/2 years… I imagine I will get a couple years worth of button bursting out of each of my kids once they each become readers.

  7. Thank you for the encouragement! Even though I was homeschooled and know all the ends and outs of it teaching my oldest who is 8 has been the hardest thing I have ever done. I have really felt like failure many times over the past couple of years.She still doesn’t quite have it but just today I saw her sit on the couch and try so hard to read a book without being asked My mommy/teacher heart about burst!

  8. Did you plan it … or what it a coincidence that you talked about the letter “n” sound in the same sentence as the attention span of a “gnat.” with a silent g and the n sound,.

  9. O Mama Mia's Cucina June 16, 2007 — 4:48 am

    Oh I got nothing for ya, as Starlet is just starting to sound things out. But SEVEN years of diapering? Girl, you need a gold star! πŸ˜‰ (PS this is Jess from O Mama Mia, but I’m linking my foodie blog since I have a lil giveaway going on right now! Peek, won’t you?)

  10. Nan, I happened apond your blog abd quite enjoyed you being you. I also have a five year old boy.I am not a homeschool mom but I feel bad for his future teacher because he is one active boy. I will be adding a link to your site off of mine. Thank you for your honesty.Sarah

  11. I can’t even imagine trying to teach to read, although we do work with our little gal on her phonics already. I suppose that is a start. Keep up the good work, Nan!Love ya.

  12. MMhmmm. I am on teaching the SEVENTH child to read (one more to go. It can be frustrating but since I have eons more expeience, Grasshopper, let me give you a tiny it of advice with wigglerrs. Let them learn to read IN MOTION. I have one that could only read hile he was laying upside down on the couch, his feet on the window sill and his head close to the floor..and he would rythmically kick the sill as he said the letters..He is now 22 and going back to Iraq fr his second time..He is doing quite well in the AIr Force, soloed in a plane for the first time at age 15, and reads very well.. Mt 7 year old is also a mover. The best way to get him to leanr letters is by having him make the letters with his body and say the sounds as he makes the letters. You can make flash cards of each letter and put them on one end of the room.he then runs to that area, grabs a leter card and runs back making the letter sound…he cant move until he is making the sound.. Think in active game terms and see if it doesn’t help.

  13. Its amazing when they suddenly just seem to get it, isn’t it? Three out of my five kids just took to it naturally by the age of 5, the second one took years to get it but when she did there was no stopping her. I now call her the Bookfairy as she always has her nose in a book. My baby at 8 has just started reading independently and I am very proud of him. Nan, I am one of your devoted fans, and visit your blog daily, so please don’t find me rude in asking, can you visit my blog to meet me and give me some blogging advice (I am having trouble with the layout etc. ) You are so clever and talented in this field, and I am very very very very impressed. And I thought that because you are such a nice person and all you might find it in your heart to help me. Is that enough sucking up? If not let me know Im sure I can think of more. I starting positing on http://www.lovecountryliving.blogspot.com under the name karisma but have just started my very own blog at http://www.karismaskids.blogspot.com and would appreciate you dropping by to give me some advice. I uploaded a picture for the header and it seems to have come out very large.I would appreciate any help to be had, I love you, love you, love you. You are even better than Pioneer Woman, I promise.Your devoted fan, Lisa aka Karisma

  14. I didn’t home school but I often wish I had. My daughters had no real problems with public education but my son did and he’s suffered because of it for several years. I remember having such high hopes for him when he read his first Berenstein Bear book when he was 4. He loved reading those to us in bed at night. Unfortunately his love of reading then didn’t translate very well when he started to get older and now, although he reads when he has to for school in the years that followed he never developed the simple joy of reading for pleasure that his father and I share. There is a happy ending to this though. This last year, for whatever reason, he’s begun to pick up books to read just because he wants to do so and not because he’s been told he has to. I know it’s because he’s found books written about the games he plays or the movies he watches and I’m not going to complain about the genre of book. I’m just thankful that he’s reading and hoping that it will continue on onto other genre’s of reading material as well.

  15. Oh, I think we are in that stage with you. Only we have the problem of not recognizing lower case numbers. Whose idea was it to make everything for children have upper case letters when they deal with waaaaay more lower case letters when reading?

  16. Ok that should have been lower case letters!

  17. Thanks for all of the awesome feedback! It is great to know that we are not alone. I will take your good advice into consideration too! I need to engage his body WHILE teaching him to read rather than insisting that he be library boy. Homeschooling really is about embracing their individuality and letting them run with that and I guess for some that means literal running! :^D Good reminders.***Better than Pioneer Woman?! NAHHH… No way. But you sure do know how to suck up! ;^P I’ll be right over.***

  18. I think the main thing to remember is to keep the reading lessons fun so that your ds doesn’t begin to dread (or hate) learning. Some kids read sooner than others. It may have something to do with maturity, I’m not sure, but I do know that some reach that cognitive stage sooner than others. They all do eventually reach it, though. Just try and keep it relaxed and fun.Oh, and this is a free online site which some friends recommended once. http://www.starfall.com/n/level-a/learn-to-read/play.htm?f

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