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When I was young, I would spend my free time in the hot Summer sun nearly always with a book in my hand. Down at the dock with the river passing slowly by, at the beach with my toes in the sand, or shut away in my room far from a houseful of siblings who were both a blessing and a distraction from my greatest pursuit.
The aspiration to visit faraway places without ever leaving the comfort of my home was the goal of my waking minutes. I’ve always loved adventure but as a young girl I had to find it in the pages of a book about mysterious places in the world, past historical periods or simply by putting myself in another person’s shoes.
I thought I would spend my lifetime only a reader, a consumer but never a contributor. That is until one of my favorite Homeschool Mom writing teachers blessed me with the gift of a book at my high school graduation and words encouraging me to take my reading to a new level, by continuing to pursue writing. At the time, the spark to write had been lit but it was one that would take over a decade to come to pass. Life took over as I pursued other dreams like marriage, a family and the desire to teach my own children.
Ten years after my own graduation I was about to begin homeschooling my own littles and can you imagine my shock to find my oldest, Dreaming Daughter, was not a reader. In fact not only did she struggle hard to learn how to read but she could hardly even remember the names of each letter until she was six years old. In my haste to keep her caught up with the other kids her age, I was impatient, frustrated and discouraged. How could this book loving, homeschool Mama end up with a Daughter who didn’t seem to care about learning how to read?
If only I could have known then what I know now. To the Homeschool Mama with a struggling reader, take heart!
Confidence Goes A Long Way
I would get so frustrated with my daughter that I would actually let it show on the outside. It’s hard to admit that I would find myself groaning out loud or letting out a sigh of frustration. Then, I would get mad at myself for getting so impatient, apologize and start over again the next day. Those were the good days. On the bad days, I would push harder, feeling like I was sure she could do better, only leaving us both in tears.
At her young age, I could have just relaxed and enjoyed my sweet daughter exactly at the level she was at. It would have been better for me to put those Readers away and speak encouragement to her little heart. I had to let go of my own insecurities that people might think I am failing at being a Homeschool Mom just because my daughter couldn’t read. Eventually I did get over it and focused my efforts on things which would matter long term, not short term.
Focusing on my daughter’s strengths was key. While she wasn’t learning how to read, she was excelling at so many other subjects like Math! Praising her for her hard work built her confidence to bravely try reading that big word, even if it was incorrect, she knew I was finally there to support her.
Dare Not To Compare
In our American culture, taking a rest instead of rushing through life isn’t easy to do. Parents are constantly reaching for their kids to do and accomplish the next thing, when sometimes what our kids need is for us to just let them rest exactly where they already are. So Mama, slow it down. I know we are all excited for them to have that “lightbulb” moment, just know that it will happen, but patience is key. Do not look to your friend’s child in school or one of your child’s siblings as a place to measure your individual child’s efforts. Your child is created by God specifically the way they are for a reason.
One of the benefits of Homeschooling is that we can tailor our kids education according to their needs. That doesn’t always mean pushing them ahead! Sometimes that means being okay with them falling a bit behind as well.
Reading Out Loud Piques Curiosity
A huge part of why my daughter hadn’t learned how to read is because she simply wasn’t motivated to. Deep down I knew that was what was stopping her, which was why I would get so frustrated. Her personality is just suited that way and I wanted her to experience the same joy of reading that I did. My intentions were excellent but my execution was terrible.
Once I put the priority on reading out loud to her, over time, the motivation followed. We use Sonlight curriculum which is already literature rich so I just made reading those fabulous books a priority. Eventually me reading out loud to her just wasn’t enough and that is when things started changing. By the time my second reader was ready to read, he was motivated enough by his sister reading and the rest is history! Tenderhearted Guy has basically taught himself to read which has been a huge relief for me!
Motivated Children Catch Up Quick
There were days when I actually thought my daughter was either never going to read or would never enjoy it. I was so wrong. At one point, I even took her to the eye doctor because I was convinced she must be having trouble with her vision. These are stories that we laugh about now! By the end of 1st grade, Dreaming Daughter was caught up to her grade level and by the end of 2nd grade she was reading at a 4th grade reading level. I just needed to wait for her to decide she was ready! Once she determined to learn how to read, she did it.
Now, she reads everywhere we go and is always in the middle of at least five books. I know quite a few Mom’s who have had a struggling reader and most of them have also experienced this same phenomenon with their own children. As soon as it clicks, they are unstoppable!
Reach Out For Encouragement
If you feel like your child is experiencing a real reading difficulty or a reading disability, make sure to reach out to get the help you need! There were moments that I humbled myself and reached out to some of my Traditional School Teacher friends to make sure we weren’t dealing with something bigger. Many of them offered so much encouragement to be patient and knew that in my situation I wasn’t dealing with anything more than an unmotivated reader. If you think your struggling reader is dealing with something serious like Dyslexia, don’t be afraid to get them evaluated so you can better understand how to help them out!
Now, my daughter and I share many meaningful conversations about the books she is reading. We have been able to go on adventures reading some of my childhood favorites like Strawberry Girl, as well as uncovering some great historical mysteries, reading new stories like Red Sails To Capri. I get to experience the joy of hearing her share some of the books she’s read to herself with me. She is the first of my children to grab a book about bugs if she finds one outside that she doesn’t recognize and read all about it!
Don’t be discouraged dear Homeschool Mama! Before you know it, those “aha!” moments will come. The joy that came along as my daughter caught on to reading was the most fulfilling I’ve experienced as a Mom so far. It was so much work that we both knew we had accomplished something big, side by side.
Encourage and inspire.
You’ll have a blossoming reader before you know it!
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It’s that time of year -the time of year when many homeschool families are making important decision on which curriculum and resources to use for the upcoming school year. Homeschooling can get expensive, and sometimes we aren’t able to get everything on our wishlist for the year. Some years, we might be so stretched for cash that we aren’t able to buy much for our homeschool at all.
I’ve gotten together with a group of other bloggers to bring our readers a HUGE homeschool giveaway -a $500 gift card to Rainbow Resource Center!