Tuesday, March 19, 2013

He Is a Reader! (despite my many failings)

I have been holding out on calling my son "a reader" until I felt like he hit a stride with reading fluently, could pronounce words bigger than c-v-c combos, and could critically engage with the story that is unfolding as he is reading.

He is a reader!

Yes, he still struggles with remembering sight words or that he just read the word "roar" on the previous page, but he is reading!

I hate/love that hindsight is 20/20. On this road to reading, I feel like I made some serious mistakes as well as many loving decisions. We'll start with the terrible first:

1. I had high expectations that he would LOVE the act of reading.
2. I expected that he would learn to read with the same ease that I had with reading.
3. Working through our phonics book felt too much like "school" on too many occasions.
4. I audibly worried about his reading, probably too much.
5. Instead of just answering him when he would ask, "what does this say?" I would encourage him to sound it out himself nearly every time.
6. I talked too much on the Great Importance of Reading and, as a result, pressured him on occasion.
7. I got into a FIAR rut early on, in which I had him label maps and color stupid things because it was related to a FIAR book.
8. I got in the way sometimes of the natural road to reading.

Now that I feel horrible about myself as a parent, let me go over the good choices:

1. I have read to him from the moment he was born, as a loving act, to bond, to lull him to sleep, to share stories with him. We still cuddle up and share books.
2. We have read all sorts of books (and everything counts!): board books, picture books, chapter books, graphic novels, comic books, poetry, non-fiction, horror stories (Goosebumps, for example), etc.

3. I've let him see me enjoy reading and audibly admired his father for reading for fun.
4. We've gone to dozens of library shows and seen magicians, puppeteers, farmers, clowns, etc.

5. We attended library storytelling mornings for tots.
6. We've signed up for summer reading programs at the library every year since he was born.

7. I've made scavenger hunts for him, which he so enjoys.
8. I've patted his back, hugged him, kissed him, congratulated him, supported and waited for him as he has learned to read.
9. I've spent hours scouring YouTube for funny phonics videos that I knew he would love (especially Cliff Hanger videos!).
10. I thought about his love for Legos and helped him "build" words with tiles.

11. We played with words.

12. We live in a book-friendly home. Books spill out from shelves, are stacked on a desk, color the coffee table, and peek out from every imaginable spot.
13. I've kept myself open and tuned in to what engages him, whether it be a kind of book genre, learning style, or learning obstacle.

What I Know Now That I Wish I Knew Then:

  • just enjoy the road to reading and worry MUCH less, if at all.
  • don't push a boring old phonics book.
  • find fun and personalized ways to practice reading.
  • don't air out worries, ask if he "likes reading," or cringe if he just shrugs his shoulders.
Where We Are Going from Here:

My goals are to continue reading to him aloud, from a vast array of genres and subjects. I will read all the fart books and joke books he wants since he clearly enjoys them. On that note, I will keep finding personalized ways for him to learn and allow him to find those things for himself by giving him space, without any nagging worries, to explore and figure himself out. We will continue to play with reading, join summer reading programs and watch those who love to entertain and educate at the library. I will continue to proudly watch him grow and help him discover who he is and what makes him happy.


  1. What a beautiful post! Well done! We are just starting with reading so I particularly enjoyed the what I wish I knew thens but he is reading so clearly you have made many many more good choices than mistakes. In Zambia there is a very common saying, "to learn by mistake" and I'm finding that it relates so well to homeschooling. I love reading your blog and hearing all the wonderful things you guys get up to.

  2. Thank you, Jody. I try to embrace the mistakes and change, change, change. I feel like I've changed so many things in relation to homeschooling (methods, routines, curricula) based on learning from mistakes. It makes me feel sad for a teacher or student who is stuck with standardized curricula and must use it (even if it doesn't fit) to the end. So glad we can switch and change as we personalize our children's education. :)