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:
- Home Grown Kids by Raymond and Dorothy Moore
- Better Late Than Early: A New Approach to Your Child's Education
- Things We Wish We'd Known: A Guide to Abundant-Life Homeschooling