Every mother has the ability from God to teach her children, but teaching academics can be especially challenging.
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Finding Joy in Teaching Reading

Of all the subjects that children need, teaching reading often seems to be the toughest challenge, but it is a very important subject since every academic accomplishment in school hinges on good reading skills.  Whether your child begins reading well at age five or eight, it must be learned and learned well.  Do not let this fact intimidate you. Teaching reading is done in the same way that you build anything else, one little step at a time.  If you are patient in the beginning and lay the foundation of sounds and letters first, a little at a time, the rewards will come.  Thousands of other children have learned to read at home with their mother’s help.  Let this comforting thought give you incentive to try.

Joy begins as you teach your child each letter and the sound that goes with it. Joy grows as you hear him stringing sounds together to read his first words, while you smile with relief!  As you continue to guide him well, your heart leaps daily as he conquers short sentences, too.  After he finally reads a whole page with your help, your excitement will be infectious.  When he begins to choose books to read on his own, you couldn’t be happier, until you see him reading a story to his little sister, that is!  What a rewarding moment it is to know you have instilled the joy of reading in your child’s heart and life.

Many of you have already experienced this joy, but others of you are just beginning. Teaching reading is well worth the effort. It is always a privilege to instruct your child.  You get to help him discover sounds and words.  It does take time and patience, so do not let discouragement rob you of joy if you find that progress is slow for your child.  Each child is different in maturity, attention span, and memory ability, so it is perfectly normal if some take longer to grasp the concept of putting sounds, then words, together.  There are no shortcuts in learning to read. Repeating the same lesson cheerfully more than once may often be necessary at first, but the pattern will click one day. Just be consistent and kind. If you are impatient for your child to read just to brag on how fast your child learned, please reevaluate.   You should strive for accuracy, not speed.

If your child seems dyslexic, have him concentrate on the first letter when he looks at each word.  Even if you have use a small pencil to point to each letter, make sure your child sounds it out carefully in the right order.  Say it with him and have him repeat it. You can also guide his hand as he writes the letter and repeats the sound with you. When learning words, it is always helpful to have him repeat the word before moving on, also. Do not give up.  Accuracy is more important than speed.  Short sessions are best. After your child progresses to sentences, repeat them until they are read perfectly, even if that requires an extra day or two.  Always be lavish with praise for each step of true accomplishment.

Teaching reading depends mostly on you, so be consistent.  Have you been diligent every day to do the reading lesson?  Do you sit and listen patiently as your child sounds out the words?  Are you calm when mistakes occur? This is vital. Are you willing to smile and let him go back and do it again?  Cheerfulness while reviewing will help him to grasp it well, and he will gain more confidence, too.

Comprehension is important, as well. When he is able to finish a story, ask a few simple questions to be sure that he also understood it.  If not, it is best to have him go over it another time the next day, possibly pointing out any picture or action associated with the words to help him think of them clearly when he reads. If he still misses one or more questions, simply tell him the answers, explain why, and go on to the next story tomorrow.

When you become frustrated and progress seems slow, it is necessary to blame ourselves first.  Have you willingly sacrificed even 10 minutes every morning to sit down and go through the lesson at his pace?  Daily practice and review are usually needed to retain new sounds and blends.  Skills are lost if lessons are sporadic.  Are you gentle and nice when mistakes occur? Do you kindly repeat a word or sound to him and encourage him to try again? Do you praise little successes?

Anger, pushiness, and chiding can cause him to resist or make him afraid to try. So, if he stumbles over words he “knows”, remind gently again. If he does not understand, try a different way to explain.  If he is ever in tears, stop the session.  Take a deep breath and simply say, “It’s okay. Let’s put this away and start over again next week(or month).”  Perhaps, he was not quite ready for that level.  After your break, simply go back to reviewing the letters and sounds for the first couple sessions and a few words that he knows. The basics will be there to draw on when he tries to read again after that. Your child may not read faster, but he will learn better skills.   Thank God for this chance to teach him.

I tell you all this from sad experience. When I first started homeschooling 20 years ago, I would drill them well, but not always patiently. They learned to read, of course, but they did not enjoy it as much as I had hoped.  When I analyzed why, I realized it was my fault, and I made a change. You can post the same motto that has served me well for all subjects: ”Be Calm, Be Cool, or Cancel School!”  When you must cancel reading, still give him the pleasure of books, without the pressure, by reading good stories to him.  Read aloud from the Bible and classic works, too.  Please do not use those dumbed-down versions of either one of these, since your children do understand more than you may think they do.

I really did have to cancel school or reading more than once per child, much to their delight, but they loved to listen to the readings I substituted, too. By my learning more patience and gentleness, along with having shorter reading sessions (10-15 minutes), it become a joy to help them, and progress was smoother. While two of mine did not learn to read well until they were seven and eight, it was still an exciting moment for both of us when each son got his library card (a special reward), and the reward in my heart was just as sweet, too!  If you have babies and toddlers in your home, I well know that it is more challenging to be diligent when your days are punctuated with interruptions, but keep trying.  Every reading session you share gives your student an edge over kinder-grade children in government schools.

You will never regret the time spent on helping your children develop careful reading skills now.  I know it may seem like a chore some days, but never convey this to your child.  Discipline yourself to be pleasant and eager to help him. Your cheerful spirit will infect him with enthusiasm.  With prayer, patience, and courage you will succeed.  One day ‘Johnny’ WILL read well, and you will have the joy of knowing that YOU taught him to enjoy reading!

© 2011 Revised – Melanie Lippert Joyful M.O.M.S. / Ps. 113: 9

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