When I started homeschooling, it was only natural to immerse myself in the how-to-teach-reading world.
What I didn’t realize then was that the greatest thing I could bring to the reading table was the fact that I was hooked on reading.
Of course it’s easier to know that now, but back then I thought I had to follow the method a lot of “professional” teachers used, which is to assign numerous crafts, activities and worksheets.
The way I started off teaching reading reminded me of a witty observation made by Scout in To Kill a Mockingbird when she said, “Indeed, they were an endless Project that slowly evolved into a Unit, in which miles of construction paper and wax crayon were expended by the State of Alabama in its well-meaning but fruitless efforts to teach me Group Dynamics.”
I find it funny that I too was following the same mindset of how to teach reading.
Though I wasn’t teaching a group, I used busywork activities instead of just allowing as much free reading time as possible.
Quickly, I learned that what makes reading painful for homeschooled kids is the massive amount of busy work that is associated with learning how to read.
Reading is not suppose to be painful, but pleasurable.
I do agree that it’s absolutely necessary to teach children reading skills by analyzing a book, however, worksheets or boring book reports never inspired my boys to love reading. Check out my article, Eliminating 3 Non-Essentials in Homeschooling.
Reading is NOT Schoolwork
Sharing a few thing that I did and did not do to fuel the reading fire early on in my children, I am hoping you will let go of some of the entrenched ways of teaching reading that makes it a painful process for homeschooled kids.
- Say no to book reports.
When I assigned Mr. Senior 2013 a book report in 3rd grade, he read the book as fast as he could, did the book report and gave it to me so I could grade it.
I can’t blame him for my mistake of wanting something to grade to prove reading progress. Who was this book report for anyway?
Book reports are part of that group dynamics Scout so intuitively realized early in her school career. I am not teaching a group, I am just teaching one kid.
If it was handwriting I was teaching, then I needed to focus on that. But, I was not. I wanted a report from him or his review on the book. It didn’t have to be reduced to some boring formal writing lesson.
Too, wanting my son to use critical thinking skills was important to me.
That is when I switched to using narration because then I could truly evaluate what he learned from the book. Check out my tips at Narration – Telling Back or Testing.
From narration, I didn’t just want my boys to retell me the plot, but to comprehend the author’s message. Hands down, narration was the best choice when I needed feedback to gauge their understanding.
Did I mention this was the turning point to my boys liking books?
Book reports repelled, but narration renewed their loved for reading.
- Say yes to choices always.
Another reason book reports didn’t work was because I assigned them. They had no choice. As a reader, I want a choice.
If I want to read something frivolous for pleasure, I want that choice.
Concerned that I introduce my boys to a variety of genre, I gave them choices within one type of genre so they didn’t feel trapped.
I could then guide them to reading material I wanted to fill their mind with and give them choices as a reader.
A choice to read what interested them also sparked a love for reading.
- Say yes to a Mom who models reading as pure pleasure.
Like I mentioned before, I could have taken it a little easier on the reading path if I had just not focused so much on how to teach them to read and just read to them more.
It seems almost bizarre now, but I didn’t want my kids to see me stick my nose in some frivolous book while we had a bit of time off from our homeschool schedule during the day. I guess I didn’t want them to think I was getting sidetracked.
I didn’t know then that readers model what they see. Crazy, I know.
I mean I knew that my kids modeled everything else they may see me or my husband do, but I didn’t associate that with reading.
It was my quest each day to steal time to read for the pure pleasure of it and that showed my boys that reading is not schoolwork.
- Say no to crafts and busywork (unless of course they want to).
When the kids were little, crafts are part of making a book come alive and interacting with the story line.
And too if my sons want to go down other trails while we were reading, I am never opposed. I am all for hands-on activities and for creating unit studies.
However, that can never overshadow the pure delight of reading or turn delight into drudgery to amass a bunch of papers we can grade.
A reader can’t read just a few books a year and get hooked on reading. He has to be immersed in good books and that means other things have to be secondary.
Allowing busywork to choke the love of reading is a common mistake made even even by seasoned educators.
Hopefully, a few of these pointers will help you to avoid mistakes even seasoned educators make.
Do you have a kid who hates reading?
Hugs and love ya,