In this photo (now 7 year old) middle boy is "reading" to (now 5) little boy. It warmed my heart. I loved it how much my boys loved books, and still do. And now to tell a tale....
Teaching reading is a trick. It's probably one of my greatest life experiences, to teach my boys and see them reading successfully....it's a wonderful feeling.
And for my middle son, learning to read has been nothing shy of a LOT of work. I now admire him. He has worked hard. He has exercised great self control and discipline. He has been patient. And he has, at long last, learned to read.
Some lessons that I learned along the way;
- It's okay to back off, to wait. In his Kinderyear I saw that this little 5/6 year old boy was getting frustrated. He couldn't remember the letters he saw. When he read short words he couldn't recognize them and had to painfully sound them out all over again on the next page. After I saw the frustration I did decide to back off. To work on some things that were simpler for him to master. So we tucked the books away for a bit, continued to master letters and letter sounds and enjoy other parts of school
- It's good to let kids feel success for their hard work. I really, really wanted my son to feel good about learning and experience results for his hard work. When he worked so hard and felt no success day after day, it was defeating. The boy was 5, just getting started in his school career. So I moved to other things to let him feel good about his work.
- I began to commend him for his hard work.
"You're working really hard." I said. "Your hard work is great...and you will be successful in so many things in life when you work hard on them." He began to feel really good about himself.
- I worked with him slowly and consistantly. We played reading games, I didn't push. I tried to challenge him to recognize sounds and words when we were out and about.
- Be careful, mama, what you say. I worked very hard to protect Nate from ever hearing that he was struggling or "late" in reading. I didn't make an issue of it when his younger brother was catching up to him. I'm sure there are times that a little natural competition goes a long ways in motivating kids, but you can be sure that it won't come from me in the form of comparison. Every child is different, they learn on their own timeline. Toss out the books that say "when" your child should learn to read/walk/wean/talk/jump/make a friend. Encourage them and love on them.
- Leading by example. Taking this break, I took advantage of the time and continued to read with my boys. I read even more for Nate so that he'd be familiar, so that he'd learn to love reading before he even read...as we do with our toddlers and babies.
Today, when we did his math lesson there was a lot of reading involved. Don't you know he took that hard work and pushed through and read it all? Afterward, he said to me, "I did a lot of reading, Mom. It makes me feel really good."