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Light at the End of the Tunnel: Teaching the Reluctant Reader

Light at the End of the Tunnel: Teaching the Reluctant Reader

When I started teaching the Jedi Boy to read almost three years ago, I suspected it would not be easy. He was always the boy who could “push my buttons”, the child who could not sit still for more than 2 minutes together.

I set out on the reading journey with an air of apprehension. Partly because of his personality, and partly due to my own fears over reading- my own struggles over reading weighed heavy on my mind. It has, and is, a real worry to me that my children struggle with reading, as I had done at school, the one difference with the Jedi Boy and myself was I had always genuinely loved books, and more than anything I can remember from a very young age wanting to be able to read. I knew my son did not (despite my best efforts) share this enthusiasm!

And, yes, he has struggled to read. Reading became a battlefield in our days. But I have learnt a few things through this journey.

  1. Do not push it too fast too soon. I knew this already, but the reality is that as a home educator you feel the pressure of society to get that child reading. But children DO mature at different stages and rates, and they show reading readiness at different times. In the past 6 months we have seen more progress than in the 2 year years previous, as he has matured, he can sit still for longer, and concentrate better. I read something Sally Clarkson wrote about educating her two boys, she said the both went through a maturing around the age of 8 years old, and this made a huge difference to their education, reading this brought me a lot of hope!
  2. Keep relaxed. Keep introducing appropriate material, so the child can try to read, so they familiarise themselves with text. Every time I have prayed into this issue, the one thing that God kept reminding me of was: “slow and steady win’s the race.” It is not a competition to see how fast you can get that child reading Dickons! It is a process, which takes a bit longer for some.
  3. Read to them- a lot. Keep reading aloud a large part of your day: read night time stories, read fiction, non-fiction, just read, read, read! Create a taste for books within them.
  4. Maintain a text rich environment. Have access to books, a wide variety of books. Keep books around that you know may spark an interest in the child.
  5. A friend told me that she would have her child copy out sections of text they had read. We have started doing this- nothing huge, even a couple of sentences- I have found this helped not only his reading but also his writing and spelling.
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