Ignoring the School System: How I got my 7 year old to read


 I love reading and so did my mom. When I’m not being harassed by my monster toddler, which is everyday these days (thanks teething!) I am an avid reader. However, reading didn’t come easy for me. I tested into school at 4 with my late December birthday, making me the youngest in my class. I remember very vividly that 5 of us kids in the first grade had to stay after school with Sister Marie Helene for extra help with reading. By the time I was in second grade I was out reading everyone else.

I just knew Johanna would love reading like me. That she would totally be into literature and desire to go to far away lands all day everyday via the pages of books. However, before I homeschooled Johanna, I heard all of these stories from parents saying how they got their kids to read by age 3, and by kindergarten they were reading chapter books. To say the pressure was on was a MAJOR understatement. It felt scary and uncomfortable. Johanna had zero interest in letters let alone reading. What if she didn’t measure up? What if she wasn’t ready? Was that a thing? So, I was hard on her. As I think back on it and see my poor, sweet little 3 year olds face, I feel sick. I was so hard on her and I completely regret it.

When we decided to homeschool, I took a lot of time to read homeschool blogs and to speak with homeschoolers in various groups across facebook. The one thing that some of them that I really admire they drilled into me was that this was the benefit of homeschool. You can take your time, go your child’s pace. You don’t have to worry about forcing them to be ready for something that they just may not me. Don’t get me wrong, you still have your fair share of homeschoolers who believe in having their child read by age 6, ready or not, but I found that majority do not. So, I fell back and realized Johanna was indeed not ready, and that was ok. As the as the days and months went by I realized that she was more into science and math. I didn’t have to push her in those areas. She adored them both, so I worked with her much on those two subjects, but I didn’t push reading aside.

Late into Johanna’s 5th year I introduced Teach Your Child to read in 100 Easy Lessons to her. We very slowly went through it and she enjoyed it enough. I also read to her a ton throughout the day. She loved story books and I love books period, so it worked really well.

The summer of Johanna’s 6th year here on this Earth we became bored with Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons. I knew that if we were bored it would no longer be effective, so I simply stopped. We made it to lesson 79. I still 100% recommend it when teaching your child to read, and I will use it with Isabella as well.

This past fall I tried my best to use All About Reading, but it was very clear even in the first week of us using it that it wasn’t going to work. We pushed through for a month, but it was terrible. We both just wanted it to stop, but goodness, I had already spent money on the curriculum and I didn’t have anything else in mind! That is when I found out that one of my favorite curriculum’s, The Good and the Beautiful, had a language arts curriculum. After researching it I decided to give it a go. Then I found out something amazing – it was free! That particular curriculum is free through 5th grade on their website. You download it and print it yourself (or you can feel free to buy the printed version). I was ecstatic! This gave me the opportunity to try it out with Johanna without feeling like I may once again waste money.

I also started reading awesome chapter books with Johanna. We would read, then watch the movie (we only picked those books with movies). We read books like Black Beauty, A Cricket in Times Square, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory… it was fun, and effective!

I picked out level books for Johanna to read in down time. I know a lot of parents give their children above level books to challenge them, but Johanna can’t handle that. She is the kind of girl that cries when she doesn’t get an answer right. She likes to be perfect in everything she does. I did not want to frustrate her and turn her off of reading.

I am proud, very proud, tears rolling down my face proud, to say that today, at 7 years old, I gave Johanna an assessment test and she is reading on a low second grade level. Are you getting this??? Second grade! She went from barely being able to read anything beyond a, the, is, her name, and maybe two other words at 5/6 to reading slightly above grade level at 7. I’m so proud of my girl! She’s improving every day. And guess what? Yesterday she finished the first book she’s ever read on her own. Big News! Emma is on the Air. It’s a really cute book featuring an adorable Latina girl who wants to be FAMOUS! I definitely recommend it…Johanna does too.

The one lesson I have learned while teaching Johanna to read is that patience is key. It’s ok that she is not doing what every other kid I know is doing. It’s ok if she isn’t picking up some things as fast. She is learning, and she is thriving in her own areas. This is absolutely the beauty of being a homeschool family. Also, curriculum is not one size fits all. It may take test driving a few to see what works for you. Always check to see if the curriculum has test pages you can download to see if it’s something you really want to commit to.

So please, don’t give up on your child. Don’t get frustrated. Don’t throw the towel in. Don’t question whether or not you’re a good enough teacher. Don’t push them to the point of frustration. Breathe. Take a break. Research what else might work. Give them some grace. Give them time. It will happen. They will learn whatever it is you’re trying to teach them – in due time. But first, do something that I often forget to do first…Pray and ask the Lord to lead you. I don’t seem to ask him until I’m already flailing. I’m working on that.


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