A child struggling to read despite giving what seems like your all to the process is enough to bring any great homeschool parent to their knees. Beyond the tears (both child and mom), teaching a homeschooled child how to read can be overwhelming.
Help! I Can’t Teach My Homeschooled Child How to Read
Look at these 5 points and use them as a checklist in a fresh start to assessing your situation.
Sometimes you just need to know if your situation is normal and if other parents have been struggling like you. (They do. You’re not alone.)
Only you will know the answers to these questions, but they give you a checklist to isolate the problem and more importantly find a solution.
ONE | APTITUDE OR ATTITUDE?
Before you can go to the next step, initially it’s important to know whether or not your child is struggling to read because of a problem or because they don’t want to learn how to read.
Even if it’s attitude, a love of reading has to be nurtured and cultivated.
For boys that means it has to be tied to something that they want to read. Girls can be same way, but tend to have a bit more patience than boys do in the early reading stages.
I have seen immediate results in some new homeschoolers that I have helped when the reading police doesn’t show up.
Sure, it’s important to monitor what goes in our child’s mind, but a child will never be able to catch the reading bug if we don’t let them make some choices.
After you determine that your child may truly be struggling and they are not copping an attitude, the next step is to start whittling away at possible problems.
TWO | CONFUSED ABOUT LETTER CONFUSION?
Letter confusion was one area that made me feel like biting my nails because I wasn’t quite sure when the struggle should stop. The old I-am-going-to-ruin-my-child-for-life doubt creeps in too and doesn’t help your confidence.
This is what I have learned; though some children may have a learning disability, it is very common for children to struggle with letter confusion and sounds even up to 7 years of age.
It’s true that some children just need more time for the reading process to make a connection in their brain.
Just think about all the connections going on in their active mind.
The reading process is an amazing process because it should not be your goal to just teach sounds, but for your child to understand what he is reading.
Stepping back to look at the bigger picture helped me. More is going on in a child’s mind than just trying to figure out which letter makes which sound.
Too, I would have my sons draw stick figures or pictures of what we were reading and have him “read” it back to me. Why? Because I wanted them to understand that reading is about pleasure. It is about unlocking the meaning and savoring the story.
How Do You Know When to Skip Ahead?
That technique of drawing (i.e. writing) helped each of my sons to keep putting forth effort to learn because there was a reward.
When a child reads what is before him, but more importantly understands it, he is very much on the great road to reading.
THREE | SKIP THE FIRST GRADE READERS
When teaching one son to read, he just about skipped any beginning reader steps.
I was both taken back and amazed at the same time.
First, he wasn’t interested in reading (or so it seemed) and at the age of 7 was still pretty unmotivated.
I had tried so many CVC readers that I was literally mouthing them myself every day. They didn’t really seem to work.
However, after about 7 years of age, I pulled out the second and third grade readers and he went right into them.
What I learned from this process was that most readers up to the third grade level are pretty similar.
The beginning phonics readers just have less text and more repetition. But in teaching an older reader, he moved quicker through the second and third graders. Too, with more text and a longer story, it gave him a reason to read.
Lesson learned. I should have stressed less and realized that constant exposure to sounds and words was working.
When the reading bug hit him, he was reading chapter books within a few months.
He was soaking up all the learning. Trust that your teaching reading every day will produce results.
Sometimes you just need to go on.
FOUR | FOCUS MORE ON BLENDING, LESS ON /cccccccc/ /aaaaaaa/ /ttttttt/ (ugggg)
Another mistake I made in teaching my sons to read was to focus too much on letter sounds instead of moving on and modeling blending.
You and I both know kids have common sense.
And when our teaching is out of balance because we focus too much on sounds like /ccccccccccccc/ instead of moving quickly to blend it with /a/ and /t/, nonsense can stifle their motivation to read a new word.
Children are pretty hardy at the learning to read stage and can forgive (forget) a number of teaching errors.
Again, learning to read should be an exciting time and struggling with each sound by sounding out every word is tough if you have to do it for every word.
There are many strategies that teach a child to read a group of sounds at one time. My go to reading tip has always been to introduce word families right away.
Have you seen this nifty and super helpful reference book? The Reading Teacher’s Book Of Lists: Grades K-12 is a book I use to help get a broad picture of the reading journey.
However, I have utilized it more when I identified a hole in my teaching and could use it to shore up some of my sons’ weaknesses.
By teaching one sound of many letters like /at/, your child quickly sees how learning one group of sounds empowers him to know more by substituting a different consonant in front of the sound.
Don’t forget to add fun rhyming books to your reading program.
With one son, I moved too fast past the nursery rhymes.
I didn’t realize the value of not only seeing the patterns, but hearing them. Nursery rhymes are about more than just fun. They help your child to see the pattern in reading and hearing the rhythm.
Too, do not underestimate the value of flip books, games and focusing more on word families instead of individual sounds.
FIVE | WHEN TO GET OUTSIDE HELP?
Then sometimes, you have done all that you can do and you and your child still feel defeated. There is a time when you may need outside intervention.
Struggling is part of learning how to read, but their are tell-tale signs of when to seek professional help.
Though I had one son who read by 5, I just knew that my son that read by 6 or 7 years of age had a reading problem. He did not. That is why it’s called reading readiness.
You have to wait for them to get ready. However, when a child is older like beyond 9 and is still struggling, then there may be a problem.
It may not be necessarily a reading problem, but it affects their reading. For example, it could be a visual problem.
- Same problem over and over.
If the problem your child has is generally struggling with the reading process, it probably is not a special need.
However, trust your gut if you see that it’s the same type of problems over and over again. That is another sign that a learning problem may be present.
Forgetting letter numbers and sounds is very normal.
Remember, there are many things jumbled up in their mind. Letter sounds, letter names, word families, punctuation, comprehension and inference.
However if the same problem or traits shows up again and again, like confusing letters over and over again then you may want to speak to your pediatrician first.
Did any of these tips help you to isolate a struggle you’re having?
Also, look at :
- What You’ve Got To Know About Teaching Reading Comprehension
- How to Transition a Child From Reading to Literature
Hugs and love ya,
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