Reading, Uncategorized

I Hate Teaching Reading!!!

This is a rant by the mom trying to teach reading and she has had enough of it today. This is written in the moment. This is also for all those moms trying to do what I am trying to do. You are not alone. I know the tears you have shed. I know the feeling when you have had to apologize for your attitude. I know and, more importantly, God knows. On to my rant.

Trying to learn to read English is tough enough without being a kid who is completely wired differently trying to navigate all the rules. We have been cruising along nicely until we had to jump up a level. Every time we need to do this it is as if all the work we JUST learned goes out the door. The font is different, the pages are longer, and the eyes keep trying to scan for familiar words at the expense of focusing on the word that is supposed to be read. Even sight words are now sounded out. Right now I have quit for the day and am waiting for Dad to come home from work to finish the small, ten page, with pictures chapter. (By the way Mary Pope Osborne I really do love your books and they have been a lifesaver in our reading adventures.)

Part of my frustration is that no one in my world really knows what it is like to teach a child with a disability to read. I get all sorts of well meaning comments on what program I should use or how I should go about it. Yet no one is willing to spend a day trying to get this kid to do his reading on a level that is actually challenging.

Can you tell I am at my breaking point? Coffee and chocolate is the thing that is going to fix this attitude at the moment. That and some instrumental music. has some fun videos about why English is so HARD. Go check them out. I basically blame all the academics for the atrocity that English is today. I would love a reboot of the language.




The One Thing I Would Redo While Teaching Reading

I don’t know of any mom who has stated, “Reading was my favorite subject to teach!” Reading is probably one of the hardest things to teach. This is amplified with a child who has a disability. As my son is starting to become more confident in reading and as the tears and frustration on both sides is becoming a rare event I have a few helpful hints for the mommas that are just starting out (notice I wrote “confident” and not “proficient”) .

1) Pour yourself a hot cup of coffee or tea and think relaxing thoughts.

2) If you can, sit behind or next to your child. A couch works great for this. I have found that my son is constantly looking up at me to make sure he has the word correct. This is hindering his sentence comprehension. In hind sight I should have sat behind him in the beginning and then moved next to him to sit side by side.

3) Do short bursts each day. A long reading time everyday may discourage them and exhaust you. Put a timer on. We started at 10 minutes when my son was little. He now can read about 30 minutes and he is done.

4) Pick a reward for attempting the activity. Stickers are our go to reward. I wish I had thought of this earlier. I reward for attempting the activity and not how well he does it. It looks like “Good job sitting and trying to sound out all those words for 10 minutes. Sticker time!”

5) This is most important. Do not compare their reading with other kids or even where they are “supposed” to be given age and grade. This thinking will just defeat you and will cause more frustration and anger in you. Been there, done that and many times I have just cried in my room because of the self defeat I felt.

6) Keep a positive attitude (this is where coffee was my friend). They are going to get frustrated and cry even if you are having a good attitude day. Keep that good attitude, grab the second cup of coffee or tea, and reaffirm their attempt.



Challenge Your Reader

Family members, the best intentions, keep buying my son those reading sets that use popular movies such as Star Wars. To be honest I hate them. The pictures are a distraction and they read a lot like a comic book. Yet my son isn’t to the level where he can read other books. Enter the Frog and Toad series. What isn’t to like about them? They have enough words that he can sound out and some that I just help him with because we haven’t got to that lesson yet. These types of books challenges him to read while boosting confidence that he can learn. Some stories are harder them others but many words he is learning by sight (for now) and he is thrilled when he remembers a particularly difficult word. At first he didn’t want to read them because it was a challenge. It has been a long semester of complaints and refusals. I kept the challenge and rewarded him with praise when he stuck with it and finished. Another thing I changed up was not assigning pages. Instead we read for a time limit. Some days we only read 3 pages. Other days we got through an entire story. By not assigning pages he stopped trying to look ahead and losing his place.

Another challenge he has to work on is keeping his eyes on the book and not looking at me for approval that his reading is correct. Currently I have to hold my hand up to his face like those blinders you see on horses pulling a wagon. When I do this he is much better at his reading.

We are not reading for comprehension yet. That is too much of a stretch for his little brain. Reading comprehension comes when I read a story and he needs to tell me what is happening. This is still a work in progress.

All this to say that it is good to challenge your kids in areas that they need help with. This is where my classical education tendencies come into play. By giving them a challenge you just might be able to facilitate those leaps of learning in your kiddo.

May God give you patience and grace. Keep trail blazing.


Reading: When to Stay and When to Go

As I teach my son to read I have noticed his speech delay holding him back from going on to the next lesson. In our case it is the next page of our phonics book. We would spend up to two weeks on a single lesson because I wanted him to pronounce the words perfectly. I was doing this thinking that it would help with his speech. The only thing I got at home was a frustrated reader and self defeat in my little guy because he could not say the word.

Then I had another “well duh,” moment. Of course he is not going to read perfectly because of his speech delay. So I decided that if he got the majority of the page read then we will go on. As we went faster with the reading lessons he became more confident and started to like reading. A current example of this is the following. We are learning ch and tch. Because of they way his mind works he adds a g to words with m at the beginning. Much is mugch and match is magtch. I correct him and work on saying the word correctly but this isn’t going to stop us from going on to the next page of ch/tch words. I can also tell his speech therapist what is happening at home and she can incorporate those problem sounds into his therapy session. My little guy wins! He is happy that he is reading and he is getting the extra help he needs at therapy.

Again it all comes down to knowing your kid and not striving for the homeschool perfection. So if you and your child/children are frustrate with the pace of a subject then kick it up a notch. It just might help them gain confidence to learn. They will probably surprise you in leaps of learning instead of baby steps. My guy is still amazing me with his leaps.

May God give you grace and patience. Keep on trail blazing.


The Reading Dilemma

One of my biggest concerns when starting home school with my daughter was teaching her how to read.  It is the basic skill to be able to learn more and learn on your own.  I decided that I would register with an online school located in our town.  They gave me a lot of books and easy lesson plans (I eventually didn’t go back because I needed more flexibility in the curriculum).  My daughter did good in kindergarten, did really well in 1st grade, and has soared in 2nd grade.  Yet she is a typical developing kid.  How do I begin to teach reading to my son who has a speech delay and difficulty in articulating words.  Reading is based on being able to manipulate those sounds with your mouth.  So much fun!

My son knew his alphabet sounds using one of those Leap Frog fridge toys.  At first I decided to try to use the curriculum that I received from the online school.  It was too difficult for him to grasp.  The curriculum had the child identify the sounds in the beginning, middle, and end of words before actually teaching reading.  The lessons went on to identify a specific sound in one word out of three.  He was frustrated to tears and I was frustrated to tears.

I am blessed with a friend who is a teacher at a very small, classically based school.  She recommended the book Phonics Pathways.  It is one book.  No teacher’s guide and no worksheets.  The recommendation is to just start out 10 minutes per day.  Learn a page and go on.  Nice!  Sitting still is not a talent for my son.  We started off.  He was getting the concept.

Then some family members who had used Hooked on Phonics said that it would be great for my son.  I should try it out and they still had their curriculum.  So I stopped the Phonics Pathways and switched him over mid year.  It is a good program.  I wouldn’t say it was a great one.  They have the child learn sight words with music.  The words were 3 to a flash card.  The difficulty was that once the words were out-of-order in the books my son couldn’t recognize them.  Also they were really big sight words like “sometimes” and “review”.  Yah, that is going to go over well when a child has trouble even saying “six” clearly.  I gave it a 1 1/2 months before I called it quits.  My son did enjoy the musical way of learning but he wasn’t learning.  And the program jumps between easy and hard concepts instead of building up to the harder stuff.

Today was the first day that we are back to Phonics Pathways.  We jumped right into the book and my son did 4 pages in the span of 20 minutes.  He need a little help but I think that this is our book.  We will have to go through the summer to keep up his skills but it will be worth it to have my son reading and eventually talking more clearly.

I was able to get Phonics Pathways from my local library!  I am all for free resources when home schooling!