07 March 2014

Teaching Your Child How To Read Without Knowing It

Mark Is Reading

I have vowed that with Mark I would not push him as hard as I did Julia.  I was trying to teach Julia to read before she was 2.  We did TV programs like Your Baby Can Read, we bought Hooked on Phonics, we started homeschooling her at age 3 with curriculum and used How to Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons...and guess what it wasn't easy and she did not learn from any of those methods.

I was an over eager parent seeking to get her ahead of the game and be the poster child for reading at the age of _____! Whatever I thought would get me an award or a pat on the back I'm sure. Needless to say I got very frustrated.  Julia didn't start really reading until the end of last year (Kindergarten), and is now reading well as a First Grader.  What was the rush?

I think I was so determined to do it right with the first kid that I ended up doing it wrong.  So this post is really a post on what not to do and how by not doing any of what I did with Julia (of course I had good intentions) and just going with my gut with Mark.

Mark was not ready to homeschool at age 2 or 3.  He wouldn't write like Julia.  He wouldn't practice his words like Julia, and he didn't memorize like Julia.  And I didn't push it.  I wanted to, but I held back and let him enjoy circle time, reading book time, library time, etc.  I never made him do school unless he seemed like he was interested.

This year, oh my word.  I can not find enough curriculum to contain this kid.  We do school in shifts and Mark begs for his turn and wants to keep going and going and going, and mommy gets so tired.  He is only in pre-k doing Kindergarten reading and First grade Math.  And it has been all on his own.  He has wanted to and he has shown interest.  I can't tell you how many trips I've made to the teacher store buying him more books to keep him busy and satisfied.  He's like this learning sponge that won't be quenched.  It's a great problem to have.  So here is how I think it happened.

Read Books Daily and Visit Libraries Often

Family reading time is our favorite, that and eating ice cream and tickle fests.  Since the kids were in the womb we have read to them.  Even now with Micah at 8:00 pm, we sit on the floor with a pile of books and read to him.  He walks around the room sits on all of our laps and points to the books he likes and we all read.  There are always books that babies choose as their favorites and Micah has these two flap books that I literally have to read 5 times each and he keeps pointing and asking for "again".  

Mark and Julia are on to novels now.  Currently we are reading The Pilgrim's Progress for little kids and we read a chapter a night.  We do not skip a night or a word in the book.  They love it.  We also visit our public library at least once a week and sometimes twice because now Micah really loves going there!  Julia and Mark are allowed to go into the older preschool class by themselves.  Parents sit outside the door and wait for them.  The big kids love going and they love telling me what the theme of the day was and what books the teacher read to them.  I have found that the more I expose the kids to the library and reading they just want more and more books.


Since August we have filled up composition notebooks with journaling.  I bought the kind of book where there is space for a picture and then lines for words.  The kids LOVE journal time.  I started out the year by picking the topics but now they like to pick their own.  They draw a picture and then write sentences describing their topic.  I started out the year writing for them as they dictated to me but now Julia writes on her own, and Mark likes to do some words on his own.  The beauty of journaling is they are becoming their own writers, they are making up ideas, writing stories, and creating on their own.  They are broadening their vocabulary and using spelling words.  I can't wait to look back on these journals in a few years and smile at them.  They are works of art.  

Special Sounds

I believe Mark picked up reading just by exposing him to books, the library, and special sounds (Abeka curriculum)  For example ch is a special sound like in church, watch, chirp, and check.  We do flash cards 3 times a week and the kids take turns and love practicing.  We make a game out of it.  These special sounds help them to read not just one word but begin sounding out many other words they come into contact with.  I have found that constant practice and consistency has been my best friend.

Spell Everything

Some homeschoolers do not believe in taking the time to teach spelling words.  I am not one of them.  I want my kids to know how to spell and to build their vocabulary so we do spelling words each week.  We have completed our spelling curriculum for the year and we still review and practice and now make stories and write sentences from our spelling words.  Mark doesn't do spelling yet.  However, he will next year.  Mark is a spell-a-holic.  Every where we go he is spelling things for me, sounding things out, and reading signs, posts, bill boards, posters, cereal boxes, magazines, comics.  He loves to spell!  It can be very annoying though.  Sometimes we have to tell him it's time to eat right now we are not spelling!  He is so over zealous.  

I refuse to not feed this desire he has so instead of waiting til first grade to start spelling, my little happy kindergartner will do it next year!  I feel like, if he is ready, and he is willing and able, I will not hold back!

Just when I think my son and daughter are the smartest and most intelligent kids in the world they bring me right back down to earth.  Mark in the tub tonight told me when he grows up he is going to definitely be a super hero, it's a toss up between iron man or bat man....he thinks bat man because he gets the poison ivy lady.  It's times like that I remember they are normal kids, growing up like the rest of kids everywhere, happy to just be loved, alive, and learn and play.


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