Friday, December 17, 2010

Learning to read...

As I began praying and learning about homeschooling, one of my biggest concerns was teaching Esther how to read. I felt (and still feel) inadequate. I don't have a teaching degree, I don't know how to teach phonics etc. So I put a lot of time into researching schools of thought on when and how to teach reading.

I found myself leaning towards the literature based curriculum, Charlotte Mason style learning. I favored the concept that you did not need to push a child to learn reading formally but to begin surrounding them with living books and that reading would stem naturally out of this.

The concept of flashcards, worksheets and three letter work books not only bored me but lacked beauty. It reeked of classroom. And isn't that what I was trying to avoid? I wanted a living, breathing learning experience that was interwoven with a rich daily life.

Now, I am not saying that I have abandoned my ideals, but that it was a shock to the system that my eldest LIKES worksheets, flashcards, workbooks and phonics. Sure, we LOVE to read beautifully illustrated and written living books together, but even though I was not pushing her to read, it seemed, that she was pushing me to teach her formally.

When I read about how bored children get with the above and do much better with informal narration, plays, crafts, it didn't occur to me that this was a general thing and not a rule, and in fact, Esther enjoys these things immensely but actually would rather sit and work on Kindergarten workbook, and wants to finish the creative activity so she could go back to tracing letters, matching patterns and doing mazes.

She learned her letter sounds close to a year ago, but as she was only three, I didn't want to push her and also she was overwhelmed beyond just saying the sound (again, she was the one who chose to learn them, I just followed her lead).

Anyway, jump forward to earlier this week when she pulled Alphaphonics off the bookshelf and asked me about it. I explained what it was and she asked me to do it with her. So, we did! I was amazed that she was putting words together and enjoying it.

On recommendations of lots of friends, I picked up some BOB books from the library. I have to admit, it was a little hard to do, because I had been so excited about literature based learning of reading.

However, I am OVER it. Because today, Esther read a whole book! She is so proud and excited!

Here are some lessons I have learned:

- Every child learns differently and we have to figure out what makes that child tick and figure out what methods work for them. No ones a cookie cutter.

- When a child is ready to learn something, run with it.

- It's all very well to have ideals but whats most important is that the child enjoys the learning and develops a love of learning. If a child begins to hate 'school' because they don't like the phonics lessons and worksheet, try something else. But, if they love the worksheets and phonics, and they are learning and loving it - why fix whats not broken?

- There isn't perhaps a superior way to learning to read, as long as it's done with fun, love and both teacher and student enjoy it and it nurtures a love to read and learn.

- Teaching to read isn't that hard. You can do it! My little girl is READING!!! In less that a week, she is doing amazing. What you need is patience, lots of praise and to follow your child's lead. Don't push before they are ready, it will be tiring and fruitless but if you are paying attention, you'll find that right time and they'll soak it up.

-Finally, I love BOB books. They are not full of eloquent words and beautiful illustrations but, they have given my daughter confidence and a desire to read, read, read! Plus... now, we'll go read some Jan Brett...


  1. As always, my dear friend, I am SO proud of you! I am giving praise and glory to God for the way you pay attention to your children. You teach me so much about being a mommy, and I pray you continue to pursue being a true Titus 2 and Proverbs 31 woman.

  2. Yay, Esther (and mama)! I always liked worksheets too, and you said it perfectly about figuring out what makes each child tick.

  3. Amazing advice! I am going to show a friend of mine who is about to give birth! I can hardly wait! I am a new follower! YEAY!!! Hope you will stop by my blog and follow back!

    Emma Michaels