I love to read. I don’t get to do much of it nowadays except for articles on homeschooling or parenting books, but when I have some time to myself, I love a good novel.
You’d think that someone who has never struggled reading would be able to teach a preschooler how to do it.
Give it a try – I dare you.
Noodle has known her ABCs since she was 18 months old and been able to recognize the alphabet since age two. By two-and-a-half she knew all the sounds the letters made. And then things slowed down. Where do you go from there? Even I am not ambitious enough to teach a two-year-old to read.
When Noodle turned three, Hubbo and I had our annual vision-casting meeting, and decided teaching her to read would be one of our goals for the next year. She had the tools in her toolbox already, so it seemed like the next step. With no real appreciation for what a huge step it is from understanding letter sounds to blending them into a word, I grabbed a pack of sight word flashcards from the dollar store and set to work.
What a disaster!
I became convinced that my child was just trying to waste my time. She must understand and just be trying to fool me, right? How could she look at the word cat and pronounce it “kuh-ay-tuh?”
But as I am sure you know, and I did not, phonics and sight words are not the same thing.
Frustration, defeat, and quitting ensued. Enter my first ever homeschool conference! I happened to run into a friend from my birthing class there (obviously our children are around the same age) who was using Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons with her son. “It’s great!” she said. “There’s a script that tells you exactly what to say and how to teach them! Because I don’t know how to teach a kid to read.”
I have to admit I am thankful I tried and failed first. If I hadn’t, I never would have humbled myself to admit I needed a script to tell me what to say to my child. But trust me when I say the script really works! For instance, calling the letters “sounds” and pronouncing them phonetically instead of calling them by their names is a stroke of genius I never would have come up with myself.
The first few lessons took some getting used to for both Noodle and myself. And then we got into a groove and I was sure she would be reading in three months. And then…
For some reason, Noodle was not as excited about learning to read as I was excited for her. “I don’t want to do reading time,” she’d whine. And I would panic, and I’d have to force her, and then she’d pretend she couldn’t read the word “the,” and I’d become impatient, and and and… You can see the predictable downward cycle coming.
This book has done amazing things for our family, but it has also been quite a struggle at times. It comes down to the fact that I have a very high-energy, easily-distracted kid. I have tried rewards systems, consequences, drawing a hard line and being as sweet and patient as can be. Surprise, the most important thing for my kid? Location location location!
We started out doing reading on the couch – but she spent most of the lesson wiggling around trying to get comfortable, standing up, sitting down, playing with her feet, jumping on the pillows. How can anybody read a word when her head is moving around so much? Then we moved to the kitchen table, which worked for a while. When behavior turned sour at the table, we moved to Mom and Dad’s bed. We snuggle under the covers and she sits on my lap so we can both see the words comfortably.
I’m pleased to announce that six months later, we are on lesson number 85. Noodle has learned to count to 100 with the help of this system, and she loves picking out the words she recognizes as I read to her from other books. She can read all the chores on her chore list and loves trying to sound out business names as we drive down the street. And me? Well, I’ve relaxed a little. I hope to finish the last fifteen lessons sometime before Christmas. 😉
What tips and tricks have worked for you as you taught your own child(ren) to read? Desperate moms want to know!