This I recall to my mind, therefore have I hope. It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every moring: great is thy faithfulness. The Lord is my portion saith my soul: therefore will I hope in him. The Lord is good unto them that wait for Him, to the soul that seeketh him. It is good that a man should both hope and quietly wait for the salvation of the LORD. Lamentations 3: 21-26

Sunday, January 21, 2007

The Road to Reading with Roo and Boo

Homeschoolers first hurdle seems to be the reading one. The measure which many of our family and friends judge our success on is whether or not little Johnny is reading. And even when the opinions of homeschool are positive there is a general belief by the friends and family that the child will be reading earlier than their public and private school counterparts.

Most homeschoolers, although not all, know that blanket stereotype is a fallacy. Especially ones with independent streaks, free-thinkers and stubborn types. I had one of each, one child read relatively early, although not precociously so. The other…well…said he couldn’t/wouldn’t read. Until recently.

Roo was reading very early, 4ish and I enjoyed working with him so much. He is a real people pleaser and still is today, even though he is getting a bit ummm…confident. He enjoyed being read to and we would sit as long as my voice could hold out. But then he stalled out at about 7.

Looking back now, I see he was busy learning other things. His math skills bloomed early also, and at about 6 he decided to focus on that. Now at early 9 he has his nose in a book all the time. If he wants to know how something works he gets a book from the library and finds out. He has gotten back into fiction again too. We’ve also resumed read alouds together. A joy to his book-freak, library-loving, bookstore venturing mommy’s heart.

Boo…well, Boo made me feel like hitting my head on a wall. He repeatedly told me he wanted to "just be a little boy." Peter Pan could not have been more stubborn. He was very insistent he didn't want to read. Did not want me to read to him (for a book junkie like me that was devastating) and just wanted to play. He didn't want to do math either. He MOST DEFINITELY did not want to do what his older sibling was doing. Most people will say their #2s WANT to do what big brother/sister is doing. No way, not my little guy.

So with some fear (okay, a lot of fear) I just let it go for a while. I will admit to having a suspicion I was being duped. But I really felt like life was a battle and I felt I was losing the heart of my dear sweet boy.

I wrote this about him over a year ago: “Boo and I have struggled lately. He is very content being a child. He is in stubborn and silly mode. He is also working on communicating without talking. Since telepathy is not my thing, Boo has been pointing a lot, making his own sign language and “squeaking.” I think what is really going on is he wants to see how fast he can make me lose it.

There has been a lot of backing off on my part. There has been a lot of figuring out whether something is important to me now because it really is something Boo needs to know or if I am worried if he doesn’t seem to know it people will think I am an awful teacher. Ouch. I said it.

That said, there are days I know he is pulling a fast one on me. Nope, don’t want to do numbers. Nope, don’t want to do handwriting. Don’t want to be read to and don’t want to read. Then we play cards. Or we are at a store. Or I sneak one in. “What does that say?” Ooops! He can read. He can figure out not only what cards are in his hand, but how many to draw and then lay down a run. Stinker. “

So we took the unschooling/relaxed-eclectic approach with Boo. Roo got the benefit of this also and I think it served him well. Boo decided he would watch movies with the sub-titles on. He told me he was learning to read. I shook my head and let him. He still kept insisting he did not want to sit at the table with me, or on the couch or wherever if it involved a book.

Now at mid-6 I am sure I was being duped. We have stepped up the pace and expectations a little bit. Boo will still tell me he "can't" whatever I request. But amazingly "can." He can do quite a bit if he is in a good mood. So he is one of the later start children. He does things willingly only if he feels it will benefit him. And what makes something a benefit, I still don't know completely.

He discovered Charlie Brown. Guess what. Roo would read those to him for a while, I would read those to him for a while, then he was on his own. I am sorry, I know for a mommy wanting her boy to read, you’d think I would have read each one…but I just couldn’t.

Sooooooooo…Boo started reading them himself. Checking out volume after volume at the library. Sitting and reading. He and Roo received the complete Calvin and Hobbes for the holidays. I don’t know about the wisdom of sharing Calvin (an old favorite of mine) with my sons. But they will spend an easy hour reading to each other. So it’s got to have some good.

Patience is a virtue and mine has been tested. God gave me both sons to teach, but also to learn from. Roo has taught me about marching through the day to day with confidence. Boo has taught me to look upon odd alternatives as good learning opportunities. They both have taught me what a wonderful, patient Father I have.

Count it all joy.

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