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Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Some Reassurance I'm Not Totally Screwing Up

Mommy guilt is such a lovely thing. When I sent my kids to public school, I always felt I was doing the wrong thing. Since we've been homeschooling, I've been certain we're doing the right thing for them, but there is always this nagging doubt in the back of my head. This little voice saying "What if you are totally screwing them up?"

Last night I was able to get a little ammunition against that voice. I've discussed before that we lean more towards a Montessori approach. Our household is more about having things available, and letting the kids take the lead. Usually the only worksheets that get printed are coloring pages, usually for a topic the kids have picked. One of the areas we've been the most hands off in, is reading.

Ryan has always been resistant to reading, to the point where he really seemed to hate it. We were never sure exactly why, but any time he was asked to read something, he would get really tense and uptight, and would say it was too hard. I always wondered if he had been pushed too hard too soon in public school, or if he really had some sort of reading issue.

So, I decided that we wouldn't push reading. At all. I figured I would let Ryan rest a bit, and see what would happen. We have a million books available in our house. Everything from coloring books, to kid science books, to fiction. Pretty much anything a child could think of to want to read about, we probably have something. These past two years though, we've suggested reading as an activity, a lot. We've read to the kids, a lot. I've also tried to make more of an effort to show my love for reading, by reading books when the kids are around.

It's been two school years now of me not doing any sort of formal reading program with the kids. I have to say, I think it's working. The biggest change we've noticed, is Ryan reads now, for fun, of his own accord. That has been a recent development in the past few months, and I have to say we're thrilled. Before now, the only things he would read without complaint were comic books. (Which I have to say aren't all bad either, because it *is* still reading, but I digress. . .) These past few months, he has been picking out books with more and more words. There have now been nights where I check on the kids to make sure they're sleeping, and I'll find him in bed, reading. It's been an amazing thing.

On the flip side of the coin, we have Lindsay. The child who always swore she couldn't read, and then I would hear her reading to her younger siblings, getting words right that made my jaw drop a little bit. It's been interesting to see how her reading skills develop, because our first two years homeschooling have been during the time she would have been learning to read in public school. We've done the same thing with her as we've been doing with Ryan, which is reading to the kids when they ask, having tons of books around, and helping her sound out words when she asks. That's it.

Last night, Lindsay showed me a book she wanted to read that said it was for third graders on it. She asked me if she could read it, and I said it was okay. The conversation got me wondering what their reading levels really are though. I found multiple different tests online, and chose three, figuring between the three we'd get a more accurate level.

The results were surprising, in a very good way. Lindsay, who is seven, and is a first grader, scored as reading at a late third grade level. Ryan, who just turned ten and is a fourth grader, scored at an early sixth grade level.

So, if anything, at least I know we're doing the reading thing right.


Jim said...

Good job, citizen!

We've had an interesting journey with the three youngest. Erin started reading real early, and so did Jon, but Gloria resisted, a lot, to the point where we had to finally just back away. And then found out when she went into first grade that she WAS reading - she just didn't let us know it. Since then both her and Erin read all the time, WAY above their grade levels.

Then Jon kinda got out of the habit of reading for pleasure, but he is getting back into it. Like you, we didn't push him, and comic books (and Calvin and Hobbes! :o) were OK with us. Now he is back into it, and we're happy.

One thing we've pushed in our house has been to explicitly tell them, "If you're reading (and not supposed to be doing some chore instead), you're being good, by definition."

Meghann said...

Calvin and Hobbes were the comic Ryan was (and is) reading! The language is actually pretty sophisticated in it though, so it's good.

And Gloria sounds a lot like Lindsay. Lindsay would whine and refuse to read, telling us she couldn't. Then one day in the fall I heard her reading a book to Logan and Hannah, and she read every word perfectly, even hard ones like "beautiful". I was like, "You CAN read." Turkey.

Jim said...

So that makes three people in our family who taught themselves to read - Morgann, Gloria and Lindsay. Smarties!

furiousBall said...

kids are amazingly resilient and yeah, based on what i've read about you as a parent - you're doing fine :)