Learning to Read


I never expected it. In fact, six months ago I would have said the exact opposite.  Yet now I realize — absolutely, hands down, nothing comes close — that the best hour of my day is when I’m teaching our Oldest Boy to read.


Our lesson has evolved quite a bit over the last eighteen months. When we first started, I made the “rookie” mistake of thinking that age and reading readiness were correlated.  So if the curriculm I bought said that it was appropriate for a four year old then, gosh darn it, my four year old would read.

All the experienced teachers, parents and homeschoolers can stop laughing at me now.

It seems silly in retrospect, but at the time I was really concerned about “the discipline of a classroom” and in my head that meant making (forcing) my four year old to complete the lesson. I had heard all of my school teacher friends talk about creating strict discipline in order to establish the routine and order that allowed the schoolroom to function. That made perfect sense to me, so I thought that I needed to do the same thing with our home “school.” Forget the fact that my little guy was not one of twenty-five students in a classroom. Forget the fact that he was throwing a temper tantrum because he couldn’t sit still for 15 minutes.  Forget the fact that I was asking him to rhyme when he had no idea what ending sounds were.

Instead I fell into the mindset:  He is FOUR.  Time to read!


Needless to say after a week of force feeding my very-much-not-ready reader, I put the book away. And just to make sure I learned my lesson every time he saw it on the shelf he would say “I don’t like that book.”  I got it buddy, I got it.  In this homeschooling adventure the teacher is learning as much as the student.

Reading took a big back seat over the next year… Instead we watched Sesame Street and LeapFrog videos. We joined a Classical Conversations Co-Op and learned to give presentations and sing our memory work.  And most importantly, I controlled my competitive spirit when I saw lots of younger kids gravitating to reading like fish to water. Yes, it’s true four year olds can learn to read, but not my four year old. Instead, Mama had to take a big step back and let her boy grow up.

Fast forward eighteen months…  we have a big brother who is closer to six than five.  He loves to draw, he likes to sing, and he recognizes the name from his HESS trucks when we pull into the station.  This time when we returned to that bad book he was ready.  In fact, at the end of the first (repeated) lesson he cheered “Yipppeee! Mom, I can READ!” and we High-Fived together in exultation.

{And yes, of course, I cried.}


Fifty lessons later we have hit our stride.  Four times a week he climbs into my lap with his green blanket and baby doll (who offer the most faithful moral support) and we do our lessons. Snuggled together we read new words and learn new sounds. We answer questions and giggle about how silly a story can be when it only uses phonic words. We show off to Daddy at the end of the day on how many new sounds we’ve mastered.  And  I marvel at the gift it is to help my boy learn to read.  It is truly an indescribable thrill to be part of this adventure.


Learning to read?

No doubt about it.  The best hour of my day.


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