Tag Archives: teaching

A Typical School Day

This school year is not turning out quite as I expected. With Child #1 high school now and Child #2 in sixth grade, I anticipated them doing more work on their own, leaving me a little more time to work with the Child #3 and Child #4. It hasn’t happened that way yet, though, and we’re already into November.

Our school day starts out pretty laid-back, and I begin working with my first grader, Child #4. Before we’re done, however, Child #1 calls my name.

“You’ll have to wait,” I respond. “Go on to something else until I can come.”

Since Child #2 already saw that Child #1 didn’t get help right away, Child #2 tries another approach and stands beside me with her book.

“I have a question,” Child #2 says.

“Wait until I’m done,” I answer. “Go work on something else.” But Child #2 continues to stand there. “It’s just a quick question,” she says.

“Oh, all right,” I say, interrupting the lesson with Child #4. That’s when Child #1 comes into the room.

“Why are you helping her? I asked you first, and you told me to wait.”

I start sounding like a pirate at this point. “Arg! Fine. Let me help Child #2 a minute, then I’ll help you.” Meanwhile, Child #4 is still waiting to continue his lesson.

“Mo-o-o-om!” Child #3 calls from the other room. “I need your help!  I can’t finish this.”

“Bring it here,” I call back, figuring Child #4 and I have lost our momentum anyway.

“Can you come here?” Child #3 answers.

My sweet teacher-like disposition is now almost totally gone. “No — you have legs — you come to me.”

Child #3 comes in as Child #2 finishes. I begin to help Child #3, when Child #1 says, “You know, I asked for your help a long time ago. Why are you helping Child #3 now?”

I look down at Child #4, still waiting to complete his lesson. “You can go play,” I say, and another school day has begun.

Teaching Reading

I once read in The Well-Trained Mind by Jesse Wise and Susan Wise Bauer that “reading is easy.” Reading may be easy, but sometimes teaching a child to read can be difficult.

My oldest son was an early reader, starting off by reading simple words when he was just three years old. After a while, however, he reached a plateau; he could read three- and four-letter words, but he didn’t seem to be able to move on from there. We spent a few months practicing those words by reviewing them and playing games. Then, all of a sudden, he could read almost anything. I never taught him about the long vowel sounds or the silent “e”. He just read them on his own. I wondered, then, if that was how children learn to read.

I found out the answer with my second child. When I followed a similar course with her, the results weren’t the same. She didn’t pick up on it right away; instead, we worked through some phonics books, slow and steady, learning the rules as she learned to read. It took a little longer, but eventually, she got it. Today reading is one of her favorite subjects.

When it was time for my third child to start reading, I decided to try the same phonics workbooks, and for a while, they were helpful. But my third child is my most playful one and the one most resistant to learning. Despite the whining and complaining, we pressed on, though at an even slower pace than before. After trying several different reading programs, I put them all aside and decided to delve right into traditional books. Finally, she really was reading.

My youngest is entering the first grade this year, and he’s not yet a reader. While he’s good with numbers and understanding math concepts, he forgets letter sounds from one day to the next. So lately I’ve been gathering different reading programs together. In the next couple of weeks, we’ll try them out to see which is the best fit. Perhaps it will be an established curriculum, or perhaps, as with my oldest, we won’t use any curriculum at all.

While teaching reading isn’t always easy, homeschooling has helped us as it allows for the differences in learning styles — and in the children themselves.

Photo by Mary Vogt