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Thursday, October 21, 2010

Teaching Reading {part one}: Our Story... I'm a failure.

It had long been very important to me that my boys LOVE learning.  So you might imagine my disillusionment, when at the prime age of five and a half years of age, my boys pored over picture books, and they were being read aloud to (living books!) - but they had NO interest AT ALL in actually reading to gain knowledge for themselves. Matter of fact, they were quite happy for me to read everything to them. They were completely dependent on me for knowledge!

One of the primary means of educating one's self being through reading (obviously); it was brought to my attention that most other children, my childrens' age, already knew or were at least advancing in the skill (it was not mentioned that they HATED it). If I didn't teach my children to read now, they would not be up to par with their peers.  No one cared to mention the fact that it takes no time at all to catch up, and that it can be done effortlessly in a matter of weeks if the child is excited to learn...  hmmmm.)  Well, I caved.

I had no idea what I was doing when I taught my first two children to read; two very different boys learning to read at the very same time. My youngest boy with a lightning quick memory, but with little to no interest in detail, and my eldest slower to make connections, but quite solid once having figured it out. Sure, I tried some CM style lessons even from this earliest point, as described later on, but I had no confidence and as I said before, no idea what kind of progress to expect. Because of pressure to comply with others' expectations of my children needing to read by the ripe old age 6, we started using a quick fix reading program that put a lot of pressure on memorizing an unreliable set of phonics and words by families. It flopped.

They whined. We cried. They hated reading. And I was devastated

They did eventually learn. Somewhere between 8 and 10 years of age. After 3-4 YEARS of reading instruction. Okay, not exactly true. I did some CM-styled lessons (these among those I will outline in the posts to come), I taught them phonograms, I cut and pasted poems, etc.  But I wasn't at all sure it would work.  After all, the various reading curriculum all make learning to read seem really drawn out and complicated!  Following our reading curriculum failure, I laid off for several months (except for games, hoping to regain that LOVE of learning, somewhat tainted by a forced learning to read), but my husband pushed on (it's not his fault, he never had read Charlotte Mason...:). After many trials and tears, I laid us both off again. After all, they were reading, sort of. It was halting, painstakingly brutal for all concerned. They skipped words, guessed words... um. yeah. I thought we'd pretty much ruined them for LIFE...  
(next time I'll be posting how things turned for the better... so stay tuned :)

{Thanks to some semi-sinister ways on my part, we finally did trick them into reading...  :) }

This is the first post in a series on Teaching Reading that I'll be posting over the next week or so.  I'm putting them here for my own reference and the use of anybody else out there who may find our experience helpful.  In the later posts I'll include step-by-step instructions as well as printables!  All of which, I'm really excited about because I'm just now coming to it again this time around with my littlest guy.

Posts to keep a look out for:

Our Story... I'm a failure. {part one} << -- You are here. :)
Our Story... Struggle no more. {part two}
Our Story... Just relax! {part three} Learning to Read - The Scary Myth {part four}
Playing a Foundation to Build on.
First Reading Lessons in Earnest.


Silvia said...

Wow, Amy, what a WONDERFUL series. I'm waiting eagerly for the next entries.
My oldest just six is reading, but last year she 'hated' the instruction and I said NO to forcing the issue. Now, without any of those 'programs', but just pointing at words, doing phonics games that stop when she starts whining, and with her own reading efforts (she is now interested), it's coming together better than I could have dreamed to have taught her how too. I'm not one of those that thinks they will learn when they 'WANT', but I'm surely convince we expect them to do so early and we push them even to the verge of hating it unnecessarily.
I'm happy reading to them, even when they learn to read we still have to read to them. I don't know those moms who say they need them to read to be able to do 'school' in their own. I don't lecture, but read aloud I DO. It's the fun of seeing learning unfold, and it keeps me on track to converse, suggest, and be able to listen more meaningfully to what they both reason.
Between the radical unschooler, and the forcing school person, we err much more on the second kind, even when CM cautions us not to.

dmauton said...

Thanks for posting about this. It sounds like the very struggle I have been having with my middle daughter. Who is just now at age 9 starting to read without being forced. I would like to see how this turns out cause I am just starting to teach my youngest at 5 and looking for your ideas and tips of the trade. :)

Silvia said...

"how to"
"on their own"
I'm editing my comments (once I see things typed I see the errors);-)

Nancy Kelly said...

This looks really good! And it sounds really familiar!! Okay, that first photo with the baby in the footie pjs - makes me want another one! So cute.

Phyllis said...

This sounds like a wonderful series, and very helpful to many. I wish I had read them years ago. I, too, felt the pressure to conform to a timeline. (I even now feel prey to it if I am not thinking!)
I posted another post about CM reading lessons just today. Oh, my, we think alike, don't we, sister!

Sam said...

Great post! Our 6 year old was having trouble learning to read last year, child number 4, but first year homeschooling. All other children burst from the womb just reading...HOP was what finally worked for her. I was shocked. We aren't using it now though. Our 4 yo and 2 1/2 yo love the Letter Factory, and have learned so much! With the series, my 4 yo now is reading simple words all on his own! I am looking forward to your other posts, as HOP is not the way we want to go for the other two.

Silvia said...

Learning to read is overrated, I learned to read at 38, before I could decode, regurgitate, etc, I even read plenty unworthy books, but I don't count that as reading. Now, thanks to HOCM (hooked on CM)I'm reverting a life time damage to my neurons.
;-) hugs

amy in peru said...

@ Silvia, you are HILARIOUS. :)
You were so fortunate that you were allowed to say NO! I am not too worried, because we all have issues as part of our individual educational histories... but I so wish I would've known better for their sakes! Read aloud, Yes! Play games, Yes! You're doing GREAT! :) oh, and me too... I'm making up for lost time now ;)

@Dianna, oh it is so wonderful once they really take off with reading! I'm learning tons and having so much fun with my 5yo too!

@Nancy, I know... something about those pjs... mmmmmmmm. :)

@Phyllis, we DO think alike! Maybe that's why I like you so much! ;)

@Samantha, I hope you'll find something helpful! I'm sure glad to have found some activities that have worked GREAT for my latest 2...

Anonymous said...

Amy, I am looking forward to reading your series!! My son is 7 and an emerging reader. He can read small words but doesn't want to put in the effort and complains. I'm torn between dropping it and having him do 3 pages of ETC a day. That seems like so little. We do play games too, he loves on the floor games with flashcards. But I think he needs SOME phonics. hmmm. Looking forward to your series...

My sons learning to read is my achilles heel with homeschooling. If a PSer or anti-hser wants to attack HSing that is what will get me to crumble... *sigh*

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