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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. 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! 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. 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. 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. A friend told me that she would...

How to encourage learning through the summer?

Here in Scotland summer holiday’s tend to be around 6 weeks. Some think that is too long not to be learning. I have fond memories of the long summer break. And as a homeschooler I find the summer break refreshing, as well as needed to prepare for the year ahead! However, I also think it beneficial that young minds still do some work! The challenge is to provide learning opportunities that do not feel like “school”. Here are a few ideas: 1. A Summer Journal I bought cheap notebooks, covered them with blank paper. The children decorated them, and they can write about things they have done through the summer, that they have enjoyed. I find writing exercises that involve them writing about themselves are always a bit of a hit! 2. Summer Reading Challenge Libraries often run these through the summer. Children are encouraged to read 6 books over the summer months. If your library does not run one you can devise your own family reading challenge, with sticker charts and certificates at the end. 3. Summer Art Projects With spare time, this is a good idea for a wet day. Consider looking at an artist, or a art style. We had a look at Vincent Van Gough, then drew a flower picture along that theme. I like we website Art Projects for Kids for inspiration (art is not my strong point!) 4. Go on a mini-beast hunt! This can be done in the garden, a local park, or near by wood. The nature detectives website offers a free mini-beast hunt sheet to print off. 5. Educational Trips Trips to castles, museums, farms, etc are all fun family activities in the summer, but all have an educational element to them. 6. Learn a new craft Again with time to spare this could be a good time to teach a new craft, like sewing, knitting, or woodcraft. Learning a useful skill can provide a child with hours of fun, and entertainment, and may lead to a more serious hobby. But above all, education is about instilling a love of learning. Play and adventure is learning. So although a long break may not look like learning, children are learning all the time. And it is so important there are times of play and good simple fun! Share this:PrintFacebookTwitterEmailLike this:Like...

Reading Readiness… the Importance of Reading to Children...

It has been said time and time again that it is never too early to start reading to a child. Reading to children is one of the most important activities to prepare them for learning to read. One study suggested that in order to prepare a child for reading the desired amount of reading one-to-one time was 1,000 hours! That works out at about 40 mins per day of reading time… if you begin from age 1 to age 5. I probably achieved this with my daughter. And as far as she is concerned it worked! The boys have not received he same amount of one-to-one reading time, for a combination of factors. The Jedi Boy would not sit still that long at such a young age! And quiet simply, it’s harder to find the time when you have more children. So although the 40 mins is desirable, it is not always achievable. Here are some ideas for homes with many children, not enough hours, or with children who will not sit for that long! 1. Read books at different times in the day. You do not need to read book after book in one sitting until you have achieved 30-40 minutes. Space books out throughout the day. Remember the idea is for children to find the experience enjoyable! 2. When things are beginning to get out of control read a quick book, it can have a great calming effect, particularly when the reason for bad behaviour is tiredness. 3. Have older children read to younger children. This is good practise for older children, and makes them feel grown up, it also helps to build bonds between siblings. 4. Something is better than nothing. Find books that interest the child, and build on that foundation. A little is better than nothing, and can be added to as the child’s ability to stay focused and concentrated grows. 5. Create a text rich environment. Children who are surrounded by books, and who see reading as “normal”, tend to read more quickly. 6. Have family reading times. Read a book to all the children at the same time, choose simple chapter books, and do as much or as little as younger children can listen to. Very young children will still pick up on the reading experience. Lastly, the at home environment is the best place to develop reading readiness. Schools and nurseries try to recreate the at home environment for young children in order to promote learning and facilitate reading readiness. How blessed is the child who receives this at home naturally....

Learning to Read: Phonics (With Free Printable Flashcards)...

I think the research is now pretty conclusive: phonics is the best way for a child to learn to read. I learnt to read at a time when phonics was out of fashion. I was sent home with a box of words, and had to learn to read the “sight word method”. They could have been written in Chinese, as far as little 5 year old me was concerned. I loved books and desperately wanted to read- but couldn’t. I struggled for years with reading. The consequence was feelings of failure, shame and embarrassment. I believe had I learnt with the phonics programs used today the process would have been far less painful. There are many phonic programs available. And finding the right one is important for the individual child. The Jedi Boy has taken longer to rad that The Girl. I tried a couple of programs with him, which did not work well. Then we started with the Jolly Phonics Program. The results we brilliant. We are now onto Jolly Grammar- and I am learning things I missed, from my decidedly dodgy Primary school English education! The Jolly Phonics program is not too expensive and can be bought from Amazon. I would recommend the student workbooks (an essential), the teacher’s handbook (an essential), and the CD (not essential, but really helped re-enforce the sounds). I made my own flash cards (phonics flash cards). These can be printed on card, and/or laminated for durability. Share this:PrintFacebookTwitterEmailLike this:Like...

Quality Literature vs. “Twaddle” for Children...

Anyone familiar with the Charlotte Mason curriculum will know that she believes in high quality literature as the only source of reading for children and warns against the evils of “twaddle”. Twaddle does not seem to have any clearly defined perimeters, but can be thought of as badly written rubbish, books without much value, and abridged versions of great works of literature. So for today’s children that would discount A LOT of children’s books. Although I do find almost any book written that comes from a cartoon, or Disney movie is badly written trash. Now I do believe that it’s important to expose and encourage a child to read the best quality books as possible, I think there is something far more important… a general love of reading. I have two children who come in at two extremes of the reading spectrum. The Girl LOVES reading! She will read anything, and is naturally very good… something I contribute to blessed genes more than anything else. Her brother, The Jedi Boy, although able to read well enough for his age, does not have his sister’s love of reading. For him, at this time, the important thing is to grow in confidence and slowly nurture that love for reading I want him to carry. He may never want to read War and Peace (well, you never know!!), but I want him to grow into a young man who will read for pleasure! His sister at this rate will be working on War and Peace by the age of 10! The Jedi boy is not happy to just sit and listen to just any story (even now The Girl will happily listen into her 4 year old brothers bedtime stories), The Jedi Boy needs to WANT to listen. He needs to be interested in the book. And I have found he seems to like these abridged versions of great works of children’s literature (how Miss Mason would frown). He wants books that are interesting for his mind, but nothing too long, too taxing. And if he is enjoying books is that not what’s important. In a culture where boys “don’t do reading”, should we not encourage the times they find books they want to read? Children are good at challenging our dogma, and testing what is really important. With regards to reading, fundamentally the best thing we can give our children is confidence in reading, and a love of reading: what they read will develop over time and in accordance with their personality. And I can only hope in a few years...
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