In my few years homeschooling I have learned that my children are not disabled, dyslexic, nor do they have learning disabilities. They are simply little boys and they would all be labelled one or more of these things had I sent them to the experts.
Two months after my oldest son turned 5 he learned to read. Oh my goodness, I can do this! I am capable of guiding my children to learn to read! Now my middle child, who has been 6 for a few months still does not know how to read. We work on phonics and reading instruction each weekday, but his timetable is different than my first child. Is something wrong with him? I began to read and research and try to find out what I was doing wrong in guiding him to read. Here’s what I found…
Some things I did correctly and some I did not. When My middle child did not read at the end of his second year of school (we do preschool as an official year, kindergarten the other), it was not because he had a reading disorder, was remedial, or had dyslexia. He is just not ready to read yet. By continuing to read to him constantly- by constantly, I mean whenever I get a minute, but usually 4 to 5 books/stories a day- as well as going over phonics each day, he’ll get there. I’m not freaked out or under any sort of time crunch here. When my oldest was learning to write, he kept writing backwards. Sometimes he still does. If we were in school he would probably be labelled dyslexic. Learning to read from left to right is a learned technique. Nothing in our brain is built in to tell us that. The Japanese read differently. Also, old Hebrew was written from right to left. It is normal for a young child to reverse his letters and words. Dyslexia is defined as an “impairment of the ability to read due to a brain defect”. Everyone else just needs to be taught how, and learn or re-learn how to write from left to right.
There is a delicate balance in making sure my kids learn what they need to know, and giving them freedom in their learning so that they’ll enjoy homeschooling. I would love for my children to be so curious and involved in life that they are always seeking out knowledge and learning new skills. It’s fun! I hated school as a child, but then went to an alternative school (for bad kids after I got expelled from high school). We learned or didn’t learn at our own pace. I did pretty well there and remember getting all good grades, especially in English. I hated English in the classroom setting. But, I also remember not knowing what to do with all that freedom after years of being told what to do. I have tried letting my 3rd grader make his own schedule completely on his own for a week with absolutely no guidance from me. It did not go well and I get angry just thinking about it. With some guidance, and freedom that increases as he gets older, hopefully we’ll walk the fine line of giving him just the right amount of both. I don’t know that any mom has mastered that skill.
The final lesson I have learned is something I get flack for no matter where I go, but I’ll share it anyway. It’s not so much a lesson as it is a way of parenting. I read a book written by Charlotte Mason. It was very difficult to read as it was written almost a hundred years ago and in proper English. I grew up reading Sweet Valley High books and currently, Twilight and Hunger Games. It’s like candy compared to the fruit of good literature, but we all need a little candy sometimes. 🙂 Anyway, this book inspired a way of parenting that made sense with me and just really hit home. Except on very rare occasions, I don’t reward my kids for good behavior with candy, gifts, or money(like for chores). The hubby and I don’t get rewards for being good citizens and behaving. We get to… not go to jail. I don’t get allowance for making my bed and doing the dishes. We all need to do our part to make the home run somewhat smoothly. So when my kids behave, they get to… not get punished. If we can teach our children that good behaviour is it’s own reward, we are giving them such a wonderful gift and a valuable tool. My kids don’t work for stickers or candy. They do their school work, chores, and anything else Chris and I ask of them because we expect them to. And when they don’t do what’s expected, they get punished or get precious play time taken away. It may seem harsh to some, but hey it’s how the real world works and it works for us. Please don’t think I am knocking you if you are a parent who does these things… we all have our own way. I am sharing what works for us and just like with everything… you can take it or leave it. Most of my friends, especially teacher friends, don’t agree with this(the whole working for a reward concept) and we agree to disagree and respect each other’s differences. I love that we are not all the same. Otherwise no one would read or write blogs because there would be nothing new or interesting to write.
Each time my kids hit a new milestone, or I hit one, we rejoice. Homeschooling, which is just an extension of parenting, is hard work and always changing. It’s exciting to get through a tough time together and come out with a new revelation and more experience under my belt. Being with the kids (almost) all the time is hard, demanding work. It’s difficult and I go through periods of time where I complain about it and wish they could go to the cute little public school with the big playground right up the road. But, alas, the Lord leads me to keep them home. Yes, I said(wrote) it, the Lord is why I keep them home. He puts peace in my heart about it and He gives me direction to lay down my desires and do what He wants me to do. I can’t say that I love being with them all the time, but I know what I am doing is the right thing for our family. And I love being with them most of the time.
Thanks for reading!