One of the biggest struggles homeschooling families battle is which curriculum is best for their children. We become overwhelmed by the amount of curriculum available, struggle to find the right fit for each of our children, proceed to doubt each choice made for at least the first several weeks, and continue to search for new ways of teaching well after we’ve already begun our year.
To this end, we thought we’d spend the month of September launching discussions on all things curriculum.
Reading. This one subject sends shivers down many a parent’s spine. The thought of being responsible for one of the most important areas of learning can be intimidating, not to mention scary.
How does a parent teach reading? Are there tips for making the reading process a little easier? How often should our children be reading? And, do we push our children to read even when they show no interest?
While each family needs to find a curriculum, and a method, which works best for them, there are a few, general tips which we believe benefit everyone.
Start Young – Don’t wait! Encourage a love of reading at the earliest age possible. Read to them from the moment they are born until they leave your home. Even when they are too young to understand what you are reading, the act of reading will still be imprinted upon them.
What if your children are older and you didn’t start young? Don’t let that stop you! Start right now! Read during learning time; read at bedtime; start making the library one of your regular visits; discover what your child likes, and get the ball rolling. Encourage them by offering rewards for reading.
Read Often – Read as often as possible. Read when you get up – Bible time! – and read all throughout the day. Make this a daily habit.
Read for Yourself – One of the most common observances I’ve made in children who don’t enjoy reading, is their parents do not read. If we want our children to love reading, they need to see we enjoy reading! If reading a physical book is a concern, consider picking up audio books. Read slowly, but with dedication and purpose. When our children see this is important to us, it more likely to become important to them.
Encourage, but Don’t Push Too Hard – While we’d all love our children to be super readers, the worst thing we can do is push our children too hard. We need to be encouraging a love of reading, and giving them plenty of opportunity to read, but when our children fight us in this area, we need to give them space. Encourage, lead by example, and make a point of discovering books your children would prefer. Then, allow the Lord to do the work.
While I hesitate to suggest any specific curriculum for reading – the purpose of September’s series is to launch discussion, not push a particular company – I would like to point out a few things we’ve learned along the way.
- Children can learn to read at a young age. Some start as young as three and a half.
- Not all of my children are going to learn at the same pace, or read at the same level.
- Children will pick up reading skills faster when being read to; it lays the groundwork for their own reading skills and helps develop sight words.
- Learning to read phonetically was easiest and made most sense to our children.
- Reading aloud to our children was key, but so was having our children read aloud to us! We needed to hear if they were mispronouncing words or needed help.
- Children who read often will develop better vocabulary.
- Reading is the first step, reading comprehension needs to follow!
Now, it’s your turn!! Share your tips for developing strong readers. What’s worked for you and what hasn’t?