Cassandra’s Struggle with Reading

Cassie is still working on her reading. Funny how it is such a phenomenon, this reading. So many professionals and programs and innovations and money money money spent on teaching American kids to read. And we are so worried about when they learn to read; as if they will permanently miss out on information if they start late. As if the information will no longer be available.

Interestingly enough, we also had "professionals" tell us that it was no good for Kevin to read so early (he started to read at age two!). So...if a kid starts later or earlier than her peers, there are all sorts of negative consequenses. At least that's what we are led to believe. If it weren't for that fear, everyone would know they can teach their own kids to read. And we couldn't have that, could we? So the system makes itself indespensible by filling us with a fear of teaching our own kids. But...Uh...if the public school is so good, why can't the average parent, who is public-schooled, feel confident in his/her ability to teach a six-year-old how to read? Thats worth thinking about for a  minute.

So, back to Cassie. She cuddled with me as I read a book to her. At first, I started on page one and asked her to start reading. She was pretty disgusted--this is a story that mom reads TO me, not one I read! But before I complied and took my turn as reader, I had her read a paragraph. She read the three sentences perfectly, although clearly irked about it. She mumbled and slurred, but SHE CAN READ!

We talked about it for a bit. She agreed that she can read words and sentences, but pages full of words intimidate her. That's what's been the hold-up all this time. Colleen taught her phonics and letter names and sounds long ago at school. She just never found the confidence to dive in and start swimming. She continues to want to stay in only up to her ankles. I am not sure where to go from here. She likes TV and video games. She insists that reading will be "boring". Steph and Eric are right on top of that one! They exclaim how much fun it is to read and write. They show her books she will love. They tell her about stories that are super-interesting. She asks what the story is about, and they say, "You have to read it to find out. I am not going to explain the whole story to you."

And writing is part of reading, at least to Eric and Stephanie. They both write as voraciously as they read. How can you make a cartoon and express your hilarious idea in art if you cannot even write the words or dialogue? I hope the bigger kids will solve the problem from here. Cassie can read, but she is intimidated by pages of text. That is the assessment. We take it from there.

If you are reading this, you are witnessing homeschooling at work. The confidence that even though we do not know exactly what the deal is, we are not worried because we do know that:

-Kids want to learn.

-Reading is simple decoding and is not that mysterious.

-Comprehension is not separate from reading.

-Each child can learn at her own pace and will turn out just fine. The only reason it is a problem in schools is the teachers need all the kids on the same page for their own convenience and for crowd control. You just can't have kids of all reading levels in the same classroom, but it's no problem in a homeschool environment.

We do not know exactly what to do next with Cassie; this is uncharted waters for us. All of our other kids read early, not late. But we know it will all work out fine.

How can we admit we don't know what to do next at the same time as we brag that we know it will all be good, and it will be good very soon? Each child is different. Each family is different. Each child grows up in an age of the family. Kevin was in kindrgarten when I was about 24 years old. Cassie was in K when I was 45. Big difference. Kevin did not have older siblings, Cassie has a houseful of older helpers, mentors and tormentors. So it really is case-by-case and what worked for one kid (or was a hassle), will be irrelevant for another child.

Maybe Cassie will not be much of a reader, maybe she will be our biggest reader. Either way, the decision will be hers, and external forces will not determine her level of literacy and her level of enjoyment in reading. And certainly, no professional with a program will be judging her, medicating her, grading her or comparing her. How and when she learned to read will be a matter for the history books, an academic exercise with no practical value except at family gatherings when we periodically review each child's history. That is the only context in which Cassie's late entry into the ranks of the readers and writers will ever matter--a family joke!

But what is next? Got to get her into fun books. Easy books are too young for her, so it may be a challenge to find easy readers at her interest level. That is the biggest challenge I see for late readers. She can read parts of the Wild, Wild World book about animals. She can read some stories on her DSi. I guess I will update this journal with her reading development. But today I get to announce that Cassie can read!

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We have decided to start this journal to keep track of our children's life lessons learned in our homeschool journey. We believe that as parents we are accountable for our own children's education. It is up to us to make sure we prepare them to be active and responsible citizens, not a drain on society. So this blog will be a place where we can share our daily lessons and activities that we incorporate into our homeschool.

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Mother to 9 children, 5 on earth and 4 in heaven.
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Christian Unschoolers
Unschooling is learning as you live life. All of life involves learning. This is what we "teach" our children.


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