April 25, 2018

5 Lessons I Have Learned to Make Homeschooling Less Stressful~Lesson 3: Don't Rush the Readiness {5 Days of Homeschool Blog Hop}

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Welcome back to Day 3 of the 5 Days of…Homeschool Blog hop! This week I’m focusing on 5 Lessons I Have Learned to Make Homeschooling Less Stressful. So far I have shared my thoughts on the trap of Public School ideas in the homeschool classroom, and how I believe Kindergarten needs to be focused on Exploration and Play more than reading and writing. Today I am going to touch on something that blends both of these sort of together. The idea of Readiness. Readiness for Reading. Readiness for Math. Readiness for school in general. So let’s get started with this week’s lesson #3...

Don’t Rush Readiness!

Just Because Your Child Seems Ready Doesn’t Mean They Are

When we started homeschooling, I was so ready. My oldest son was always ahead of the game—he was speaking sentences by the time he was a year old—yes SENTENCES—and you could carry on adult conversations with him by the age of two. I am not joking. Ask anyone. LOL. He could count to 20, and say his ABC’s easily by the time he was 5. Needless to say, when we made our decision to homeschool I was sure he was READY and he’d be on the road to reading in no time. We started well. We picked My Father’s World Kindergarten program and off we went. He sure picked up the lessons well. And we were rockin’ and rollin’. Until….we started working on reading. Boy. We suddenly screeched to a halt and it got painful.

What had happened? Why were we flying and suddenly crashed? Was I doing it wrong? From this point on—yes from middle of Kindergarten year until the end of 2nd grade, reading became  A CHORE! He reluctantly read to me during school. Getting him to try his reading skills when out and about was like pulling teeth! I despaired of ever having a reader for a child---something an English major and 100% bookworm just couldn’t fathom. I remember writing to online homeschool groups about my frustrations.

And then…
At the end of 2nd grade, when he had just turned 8---something magical happened. We were reading aloud the AWESOME and ENTERTAINING biographies about important men during the American Revolution, and had to stop reading. He said, “Do we have to stop?” I told him that it was all we had time for that day…and he was disappointed. You know what happened? I found him on the couch after school. With the book in his hands. And he was READING. ON HIS OWN. BECAUSE HE WANTED TO. He worked through that book. Then he wanted to read more by the author, so we went to the library and he asked the librarian if she had more. The librarian provided a few more by the author. AND HE READ THEM TOO.

And you know what? From that point on, he NEVER STOPPED READING. It was like something clicked. I couldn’t force it---it had to happen on its own. I believe that finding books he WANTED to read was a MAJOR contributor to this. Turns out he disliked books that weren’t historical. (and nothing has changed there!) And honestly, he just needed to WANT to read.

See I thought his ability to learn his letters quickly, speak early, and begin phonetic awareness easily meant he was ready to dive in. And so I was pushing it. I was thinking he wasn’t trying. Or I wasn’t explaining it well enough. Or the curriculum was failing us. But that wasn’t the case at all.


Boys and Girls Are Ready At Different Times…and It's Okay

Here is the next lesson that I learned.

Boys and Girls are ready at different times. Girls tend to pick up reading readiness skills more quickly than boys. On average boys tend to have reading readiness about age 8-9, while girls kick it in gear about 6-8.

Did you know that’s been proven scientifically? Go ahead and look up the gender reading gap. You can also listen to podcasts, and watch webinars about it from many of the top Language Arts companies—like Institute for Excellence in Writing. So the idea that my son was finally READY to read at the end of 2nd grade? Matches everything I have read.

So, why do we despair when our sons just aren’t getting it as quickly? If you are on any homeschool group, you will see reading woes over and over again. Perhaps this is why there is the increased gender reading gap—because the boys were pushed and prodded when too young and it soured their experience with reading. My husband says this definitely happened to him. He abhors reading and traces it back to elementary school.

When you are working with your early elementary children, EXPECT that there will be issues instead of assuming it will come easily. And EXPECT that your sons and daughters will probably NOT be at the reading readiness at the same time. Same with writing readiness too. These skills actually come later rather than sooner. And remember, that even among the same gender some will have it click sooner than later. One of the hardest scenarios is when a younger sibling quickly catches on and leaves the older sibling in the dust. We’ve had that situation here in other subjects. And it’s hard. But you just need to help your struggling child remember they are on their own timeline of success. And as a parent we MUST not compare them to their siblings. Easier said than done I know. LOL.

It Is Better to Wait Until They Are Ready, than Have Every Day Be a Battle

If you can hold your horses and not push a readiness that isn’t there---when it DOES connect, they will thrive and soar and you both won’t be filled with frustration. Because if you push something that really isn’t there---every day will be filled with battles. And you will risk driving them AWAY from a potential love of reading. Remember how I said to not let public school influence your homeschooling decisions? When it comes to reading readiness--this is where it gets hard. Because public schools think all children should be 100% capable of reading IN KINDERGARTEN. All. Not just girls. Not just the boys. But they are putting the SAME TIMEFRAME and READINESS on both genders. And frankly, that's wrong. It doesn't work that way. I have seen multiple videos about how in several countries in Europe they don't even FOCUS on reading or until closer to age 8. And I would imagine that reading comes so much more easily when it's done that way.

So how do you get them ready? What can you do to encourage them to a state of readiness?

Just keep reading aloud. Over and over. Every single day. Have them sit with you. So they can see and hear you reading the words. Pick books that are exciting or funny. Books that have cliffhangers at the end of chapters are the best. Because children have a thing called curiosity. When you stop reading and leave their imagination hanging—oh it’s like torture! And they “have to know what happens!” And this will be like adding jet fuel to their readiness. Because it shows them the power that reading has.

It has worked with BOTH of my children. Boys. LOL. It killed them when we would stop reading. I would put the book down for later—and sure enough, at least one of them is sneaking a peek…

Yes, keeping saturating their minds with the power of words. Good books to fuel their imaginations and fill them with wonder. Demonstrate how knowing how to read takes you adventures.

It’s not a perfect formula. There is always the child that just doesn’t care whether they read or not. Fortunately, they are actually few and far between. LOL. Take heart that many of our great leaders in this world TAUGHT THEMSELVES TO READ…and most did it when they were older than 8! When the desire is there—the magic happens.

Flash forward to 2018. My 12 year old--my "i hate reading" child...he's now a voracious reader. He reads on a high school level and takes books to bed. To the bathroom. To the car. He reads everywhere and he's very particular about what he wants to read about. My 7 year old son is reading...but it's not a love...yet. I have hope for him too. I learned from my working with his brother. I chose to do much more READING ALOUD. I didn't freak out so much when he struggled with phonics. We kept it fun and slow. And it made a difference. He is starting to ask for books at the library. And reading isn't the chore it was for his brother. I am pretty sure I learned from my mistakes. Readiness happens when it happens. I take my cues from them.
BOTH boys reading at the breakfast table ❤

One of the things repeated more than a few times in yesterday's post about Kindergarten, was starting pushing reading to soon, and misinterpreting an interest in school and activities for readiness. So be patient. Don’t despair. Your child may not be behind in their reading skills. They just may not be ready for the adventure yet. So don’t rush the readiness.

This week I am joining in with 21 other homeschool bloggers to talk about various topics relating to the theme of homeschool! I hope you will use the linky below to visit some of the other ladies to see what THEY are going to covering this week! And check back in with me tomorrow as I share with you ANOTHER lesson that I have learned to help make homeschool less stressful--it's a lesson I have definite personal experience with. It has to do with giving up...something.

1 comment:

Kristen of A Mom's Quest to Teach said...

My son was so ready to read and do schooling while my daughter is struggling with the reading (math on the other hand - she LOVES).