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