Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Reading 101

During a small group setting a few weeks ago, a fellow mom encouraged her five-year old son to read to us. He didn't skip a beat. That boy read his book fluently. Big words, like "Zacchaeus" didn't even cause him to stumble. Not one bit.

Inwardly, I felt the sting of comparison. My five-year old son, meanwhile, is learning consonant sounds while working through his Get Ready, Get Set, Go for The Code books; he's also starting to learning simple three-letter words, like "sat," and "cat," "bug" and others. Some days, sounding them out is a bit tedious. But until "story-time," I felt pleased with his progress.

I had to remind myself that this other boy is in kindergarten for a full day at a school that really pushes phonics and early reading. His teachers spend many hours a day drilling him--and the other students.  I purposely have chosen not to spend hours on phonics right now with my son. 

Reflecting on all of this caused me to reevaluate my educational philosophy. I choose not to push with too much too soon. I don't want my son to hate reading, so if it's too much of a struggle, I don't think he's ready to dive in yet. That doesn't mean we won't work on it; I'll just try to find another approach to keep learning as fun and interesting as possible. Because learning is an innate, God-given desire, I believe there will come a time when he will desire to learn to read on his own; when we reach that point, he'll be highly motivated and the learning will come much easier.

For example, I was trying to take him through Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons. Everyday was a struggle. He really didn't like the book. He thought it was too boring and tedious (it was tedious for me too). So I shelved it for awhile. If we sat down to work on reading, we brought out real books. I had him try to sound out a few words, or a page if it was a book he could handle. 

However, I  brought out my copy again after seeing where this fellow five-year old was at and feeling like I needed to step it up a notch. We don't work on a lesson in the book everyday, but aim for a few a week. It's a pace we can both handle. Neither one of us get too frustrated. I suppose the whole episode was productive in that it helped me to realize that I could be doing more to teach him to read at this point. It was also good, because it reinforced my decision (and renewed my confidence in that decision) to ease into formal, structured schooling.

Some books that have helped me reach these conclusions are: 
The point is to reach our own conclusions carefully regarding our child's education, and then stay confident in them--even when (especially when) others may cause us to feel the sting of comparison. It can't bite you if you don't let it.

1 comment:

  1. I know how you feel!
    My girls both learned to read already by this point that my 5 yr old is at.. however.. I'm CHOOSING not to push him. He has show only a little interest in it and we casually work on letter sounds and formation when he does show a little interest. And I'm not going to worry about it.

    This wonderful little boy that God has given me is a very hands on, active, science oriented little boy. He's learning so much it's just not reading, not right now. He can tell you about weather and clouds and space and planets and all kinds of crazy things I wouldn't think he'd pick up on and remember. I want to encourage that as much as I can..

    Reading SCHMEADING. He'll get there when he gets there. =) In the meantime, he loves being read TO and we're having so much fun and learning through reading time.