Sander has been having the most difficult time with reading. It’s been a challenge for him for quite some time, which is why I pulled him out of school. They were teaching him whole word reading, which wasn’t helping him any when he encountered words he didn’t know. It was a frustrating experience for him, so we decided to do something different for him.
Now we’re working on phonics. It’s already made such a difference in how Sander reads. It’s not the natural “when he discovers it” kind of experience I’d hoped for, but we’re trying to keep with state standards. We don’t read together as often as we should, and most of our reading is the easy readers as a part of the Primary Phonics workbook set, but we’re getting there. He’s building the skills he needs to read, which is the general idea of it anyway.
Today we read one of the Rookie Reader series. As much as I love the idea of those as beginner readers, they’re really not so easy. I’ve come to discover that many “beginner” readers have a lot of really challenging words, several with multiple syllables. They’re not exactly easy reads for a kid that’s just learning to read, which makes it challenging, especially for Sander who is definitely a reluctant reader, if you want to throw a label on it that way. He finds those books really challenging, which makes enjoying the time reading them that much harder.
One of the problems Sander has with reading is sounding things out. He tries, but he keeps mixing up the sounds and adding sounds where none exist. This leads to the frustrating challenge of trying to straighten him out and getting him to read only the letters that exist and in the right order. It’s really hard to have patience with him while he struggles through. I’d almost rather read to him instead of watch him struggle to figure it out and get frustrated. While the whole word method of reading made him equally as frustrated, I think phonics and sounding things out are equally frustrating for him, though he’s definitely making more progress this way.
I have to admit, it also helps that I’m not the best about getting him to read either. We’ve been known to skip whole days instead of working with it every day. I don’t feel like fighting with him for daily reading is really going to help him love reading, even if it’s going to make his reading skills that much better. It’s hard to be motivated to push my kids to do things they really don’t want to do. I don’t see it as necessary. I guess this ties back to the days when we used to be pure unschoolers, something I really hope we can get back to as my confidence with working with the system grows.
In the mean time I’ve gotten a lot better at reading to the kids before bed. Luca doesn’t last long through the stories. Generally halfway through the chapter I have a sleeping Luca on my lap. Sander isn’t a huge fan of reading stories before bed, which doesn’t help things much, though I think it’s because he’s just not a fan of Peter Pan. I think if we were reading a story he was more interested in, that would help. We’ve talked a bit about what comes next and we’ll see what we end up doing. We’re halfway through Peter Pan (which isn’t surprising as it’s not an overwhelmingly long book), so we’ll be on to another book soon.
I know reading aloud to the kids isn’t really helping Sander with his reading skills, but I can’t help but think it may eventually increase his love of books. If I can read stories he really gets into I’ll be able to inspire his love of books. If he loves books he may be motivated to work on his own reading skills so he can get the stories without having to wait for me to get around to them.
Isn’t that really how unschooling works, though? You inspire your kids to get into things because you expose them to those things. Your kids want to read because they learn books are enjoyable. That’s how you unschool reading. They learn to read because the words show up in their video games and they want to be able to read it on their own. They learn to read because they get tired of having to wait for someone else to read everything for them. They learn to read because it’s a useful skill, not because it’s something they have to do.
Of course, that backfired with Corde. She just wanted me to read everything for her. “Reading is boring,” she still says even now, but she would listen intently whenever I would read a story aloud. She’s a bit old to enjoy read aloud stories, but she still hasn’t gotten that spark of wanting to read on her own. She’s started reading Coraline and hasn’t gotten past the first chapter, and she’s been working on it for a almost two weeks. I honestly think she’s never going to take to reading. She much prefers to watch Netflix or play silly little games on her phone. At least texting is making her spelling improve.
Luca, on the other hand, has really taken to reading. It’s frustrating because Luca wants to read everything, but doesn’t have the skills to actually read any of it. It’s frustrating for Luca because he wants to read the same as the rest of the kids. It’s doubly frustrating for me because I have to explain to Luca that, until he can develop the skills himself, I still have to do the reading. In the end it would all be so much easier if Luca would learn to read. I have a feeling once Luca learns, nothing will stand in that kid’s way!
Beekee is much more of a reader than Sander and Corde. He can sit for hours reading on his own, though given the choice he would rather play video games or watch television. I’ve taken to instituting reading time during the day so that Sander and Beekee have to read. Once Corde is home, that’s when she’ll do her summer reading. Beekee really seems to like this time, though he does have a tendency to just look at the books rather than actually reading them. At least the idea is there.
This all brings me back to Sander. I’m not sure how I’m going to help him become a reader. Maybe if I keep picking up Kindle edition books that will help. I like the Kindle edition books because I can download them as many times as I like and they take up no physical space to store. If the kids want to read them when they get older I can always get them their own Kindles to load up with all their favorite stories. That may be what it takes to get Sander interested in reading. The challenge then is picking out books that he’ll really enjoy. Peter Pan is not a win, in spite of the adventures and everything else. I think it’s far too wordy and not enough action.
If anyone’s got suggestions, I’m all ears. I’ve already decided we’re going to do Percy Jackson, Harry Potter, and likely the Mrs. Peregrine’s Home for Extraordinary Children. We’re definitely going to read Coraline. I just don’t know where to go from there, maybe the Redwall series. There are too many options and I’ve got to admit, I’m not up on what kids are reading these days.