Flipping the switch

One of the things I feel like I’ve constantly struggled with in terms of teaching the boys to read has been in making the transition from easy (EASY) readers to real book reading. We’ve been hovering in this no-man’s land for a year. I’ve been at a loss. We keep plugging away at The Ordinary Parent’s Guide to Teaching Reading, and using Explode the Code to reinforce the concepts learned, but I haven’t been able to get away from the feeling that it should somehow be easier than this.

I don’t know what happened, but something flipped the switch in Henry’s mind. He wants to read now.

We were cuddling in a chair one night and were about to start reading a library book. A quick glance at the first page told me that he knew all of the words but one. So I encouraged him, saying, “I’ll bet you can read most of the words on this page!” I try that tactic every now and then, usually unsuccessfully. But this night he took the bait. And read that page. And turned the page and read the next one. And on and on until he finished the book. He was beaming. He’d just read a real, live book! It was an awesome moment for both of us.

But it didn’t stop there. The next night he brought me another book and sat down and read it to me.

Lately, it’s been a mad quest to see how many books we have on our shelves that he can read. The librarian congratulated me this week for checking out the most books of anyone that day (47).

But it hasn’t stopped there. Me-Too (a.k.a. Samuel) has entered the competitive arena and is keeping pace with his brother. On a good day, I’ll be on the couch with each of them for an hour at a time. AND I’M NOT THE ONE DOING THE READING.

Literally like flipping a switch. It’s so exciting for me to watch.

And speaking of switch flipping…let’s talk about Kate for a minute. I’ve been working with her and with Becca separately, and have discovered that Kate is anxious to move past the dinky dollar store workbooks and really start learning. I’ve been using the Explode the Code primer series with her and she is eating it up. She’s 3, people. And she’s doing 12 workbook pages a day. 5-6 days a week. Crazy awesome.

And this is why I home school. Readiness. I have the ability to teach my kids when they’re ready for it, rather than slip them in to a prescribed public school time line. For Henry, (and Becca, I suspect) readiness comes in it’s own time, perhaps a little past what their peers are doing. For Sam and Kate, it’s about being able to give it to them when they’re ready for it, instead of putting it off because they’re not “old enough.”

It all makes for a great balance, really. I get the full spectrum, from encouraging, teaching, re-teaching, and finding new things to try, to not being able to teach it fast enough. From practicing hard things a little bit every day, to watching the switch flip. Love it.


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