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Tuesday, July 14, 2009

At their own pace

Do you ever have moments when you wonder if you should be homeschooling? My oldest child has always been behind in everything, but sometimes, I get it in my head that it is my fault- that I'm not capable of teaching her. At times, I have wondered if I should enroll her in a tutoring program for reading. She just wasn't getting it. Grant it, she's only six, and when I was six I wasn't reading either, but public school children are reading by kindergarten. And, while I hate to compare our progress to that of institutional schools, it's often hard to avoid- especially when many of her little friends and church peers are public schooled or involved in Mother's Day Out preschool programs at churches which use Abeka curriculum (which is quite advanced, in my opinion).

I worry that my darling little girl will feel silly or dumb because others her age (and younger) are reading and writing. Lately, I've noticed that she's started worrying about what others think of her. I don't know where this came from, but she has always been a sensitive little girl.

After purchasing a couple different programs (including Hooked on Phonics, which I think is a ridiculous program, but at least it comes with plenty of books, which made it worth the money), I finally listened to good advice and bought the book Teach Your Child To Read in 100 Easy Lessons (Siegfried Engelmann, Phyllis Haddox, Elaine Bruner).

This book is all you need, and it's fantastic. It's reading curriculum for beginners in one inexpensive book. I wish I would have bought it a couple years ago!

My daughter is doing so much better, now. Mainly, she struggles with blending sounds to make words, and this book as really helped her understand blending. The book has a script which tells you what to say and how to correct mistakes to keep kids on focused and on track- which is very helpful.

I think it also helps that she's a little older. She may not have grasped this last year or the year before- even with this amazing book (although I think she probably would have, but who knows!), but she is doing well now.

There will always be something she struggles with, but, as I have mentioned before, there are other things she does incredibly well- above those her age, so it evens out in the end.

My oldest boy, who is four, has had the benefit of listening in on the lessons and such over the years, and is not far behind his sister (even though they are 21 months apart), with the exception of writing. Merikalyn's letters are well formed, while Nolyn's are still hard to recognize. Still, at four years old, he is already doing simple math (addition and subtraction), and has already caught on to some of the aspects of reading- such as blending sounds- even though I have not sat down to teach him these things. I think overhearing our lessons while he plays has probably taught him much more than if I would have sat down and tried to cram it in his head. He's just that type of child.

Each child is going to be different, even within a family- and my children are definitely proof of that. While one child may need extra attention and guidance in one subject, another child may catch on quickly. I didn't even realize Nolyn understood all that he did, until I heard him hollering out answers in the background while I walked Merika through a lesson!

Potty training was very similar to our reading issue. Merikalyn struggled with it. As her fourth birthday neared, I vowed to have her potty trained before the party. Well, her birthday came and went, and she was still in pull-ups. I was mortified! So many of my friends had potty-trained two-year-olds, and here I was with a four year old who refused to use the toilet! I wish I could say it happened that year (to her credit, she came a long way with making friends with the porcelain throne that year), but she was FIVE when she finally got it down. Nolyn, on the other hand, was potty trained when he was three... and not by me. My mother-in-law worked with both of the kids when they were at her house, but he as just generally interested in the toilet. One day, I was in the kitchen and saw him run into the bathroom, strip off his diaper and plop his heiny on the toilet! Then, I saw him get off and put back on his diaper! Ha! He had been doing this for a couple weeks, and I was clueless! (He was only wetting his diaper during naps and night time.) A month later, he was in underwear all the time.

My point here is, some kids just take longer to learn things. We may be embarrassed because it's not on the schedule most other children are on, or because it makes us feel like a failure, but eventually, it'll happen. We just have to be patient and loving. We may need to seek a different method of teaching, or we may just need to be more consistent.

We'll see many of these moments as our children grow, I'm sure. What makes it worth it is... once they get it, they really GET it.


Beth said...

I can totally sympathize with you!It's so hard not to compare, isn't it? And then freak out because it might be the result of homeschooling! My oldest daughter is very reserved and I have to remind myself that is simply her nature and not because she's so "unsocialized."

Mommy N said...

You know... at least you won't have to worry about her doing things JUST b/c others her age are doing it - she won't be pressured to do the "cool" thing, but will be guided to do the "right" thing.. she won't feel the need to surrender to peer pressure ;-)

Arlene said...

I'm so glad you understand each child is different. I was losing my patience (and temper, sad to admit) with my youngest because he couldn't read. My 2 oldest are avid readers, and I couldn't understand why my little one was so lazy (or so I thought). Once I was home with him all the time, I began to realize there was more to his inability to read than I was seeing. I believe he is dyslexic (he has an overwhelming amount of symptoms) which explains why math is easy for him but reading isn't. God is teaching me patience through this, and compassion. The number one thing I've learned though: just because they're all my kids, doesn't mean they'll do everything alike. Have patience with Merika, and encourage Nolyn. They'll do fine in their own time.

Luke said...

That is why I love homeschooling: We can go at the pace we need! I struggled with reading for a long, long, long time. But because I was homeschooled I could go at the pace I needed until I learned.


Anonymous said...

With comparisons "the grass is not always greener on the other side."

My daughter was in traditional school and had a very hard time learning to read well. The teacher's called me in for conferences and played the "blame game". They said I was too over protective, etc. Even though I didn't agree with them they made me feel like a terrible mother. Finally, as she continued to learn slowly their answer was to fail her every year. Her self esteem just went to nothing. She felt like she was stupid. Then they wanted to put her in resources to "accommodate" her. Accommodate to them meant to allow her to take her test with the books open so that she could copy the answers. That way she would make the grade. To me that meant "running her through the system without really having to teach her." I was scare to death to homeschool. I didn't know anyone else who did. My family was against it after all according to them the homeschoolers they knew were all weird. I went against everyone's well meaning advice and follwed where the Lord was leading. I had my daughter privately tested and she is dyslexic. She doesn't need to take open book test, if you allow her to take oral test she can show just how much she really knows. We can work at her own speed, no matter how slow and I can know that she is really learning the material.

When I start feeling inadequate to teach I remind myself that I am adequate through God power. I also remember all that we went through and what it did to my daughter ... their idea of education just wasn't worth it for us.

100 Easy Lessons is a wonderful book to teach reading. I use it. Explode the Code is something you might want to check out as well.

Best of wishes and congradulations!

Anonymous said...

I believe many kids in public school are having much trouble reading. I think one of the huge problems with ps is that they do want kindergarteners reading, and many are NOT ready. Then the child thinks he is stupid and it makes this huge mental block about reading. Our older 2 girls were easily fluent at 5 years of age. Our 6 and a half year old son is learning slowly. I don't think he is dyslexic but he is so far from being fluent now. I am tremendously thankful that we have him home where he can take his time and not be pressured by a system that is not willing to accommodate a child who needs more time to learn something.
I believe our son will be an excellent reader at some point. It is fine that he isn't now.