Monday, September 16, 2013

Learning to Read

When I decided I wanted to home school, I knew it would be easier if Little Man knew how to read.  He was four and I knew a four year-old could read.  I researched the best book to buy to teach reading.  I asked others about teaching a four year-old how to read.  I had everything lined up for success.  Well, that is except for Little Man!

You see, I was ready for him to read.  We had reading lessons everyday.  I followed the script from the reading book.  He didn't.  I became frustrated.  He became frustrated.  I put the book away. He was not ready to read.

Six months later, we began homeschooling kindergarten.  Surely, he would be ready now.  He would pick up on the process.  The kindergarten phonics program was entertaining.  He answered the questions correctly.  He was heading in the right direction.  I was excited!  I got books from the library.  We sat down to read.  He didn't read!  Why, not?  He knew his phonics, he read the words on the computer.  What was up with a book?

My mother (a teacher) was becoming concerned that he was not reading.  She wanted to buy resources to help him.  Deep down, I knew these would not help.  He just wasn't ready.

By now, I was getting discouraged.  I began to scour the internet.  I read articles about children who did not read until they were eight, nine, ten, years old or older.  I read about how in homeschool families it was okay to not read until a child was older.  The parent could read to the child and the child could still learn about all things.  Some relief came to me.  The main thing was not to worry.  I needed to follow Little Man's lead. 

Putting trust into a six year-old child is hard.  Especially, when you have a mother that is doubting your philosophy on allowing your child to take his own time.  I read to him.  I still had him working on phonics.  When he needed something read to him, I asked him if he could read any of the words.  I made a big deal of him reading a word here or there.  I cringed when someone would ask him to read something.  When he couldn't read it, they would say aren't you in first grade?  I would tell the person he is learning.  Little Man would just shrug it off.

What if he had been in public school?  Would he have shrugged it off?  Would other peers make fun of him?  Would he be behind?  Thank goodness, we didn't have to find out!

We finished first grade with him only reading a few words.  He wasn't bothered by it.  It didn't affect his learning.  He had me and his sister to ask, "What does this say?"  He knew we would help him.  The neighbor boy would chide him for asking.  Little Man would tell the boy, "I can read, just not the big stuff." 

My mother was becoming more worried, I was becoming more confident.  I finally asked her when did she start school.  She said in the first grade.  They didn't have kindergarten back then.  I asked how old she was when she started.  She told me six years-old.  (Her birthday is in March.)  I asked when did she learn to read?  She told me they started learning to read primarily in the second grade.  I then saw her eyes light up and she made a connection.  We expect five year-old children to read.  Little Man was not behind.  He was only behind in today's public school world! 

Children use to be sent to school around age seven or eight prior to the early 1900s.  They learned to read and write at this time.  Today, we send children to school and preschool at four and five and expect them to write and read.  The majority are not ready.  There have been studies showing that a child learning to read at age four is no better reader at age twelve than a child that learned to read at age eight.  Why do we insist on making children learn things they are not ready for?  These children then start to feel dumb and lose their confidence in the learning process. 

Before, we officially started school this year, I noticed that he was starting to read more signs. He announced to me that he was going to read.  He wanted to get an X-box for reading.  (Our library had a contest last year for the summer reading program and the prize was an X-box.)  I made him a deal. (I knew he was ready to read.  I would not have made the deal, if he was not.)  If he did not fight me about reading his McGuffey primer, we would see about getting him an X-box for his birthday in December.  We are twenty-nine lessons into the primer and he is reading!  He is reading everything!  As we drive, he reads the billboards and street signs.  When we are in stores, he reads the tags and labels.  It has finally clicked!

I am so grateful that I listened to my inner self and did not push him.  I am happy that I allowed him to take the lead.  I cringe to think about what it would have been like if we did not home school.  I thank God, we are able to learn on Little Man's schedule and not the school system's.