My son has always loved to read. When he was little, I didn't see myself as his teacher-I was still in the mindset of counting down the time until he started Kindergarten. It wasn't my job to teach him to read. We just read a lot together because I love to read. After he started school, it was an easy entrance into effortless reading. When my second turned four, it seemed everything clicked. She went two days a week to a little preschool program that worked on basic phonograms. One day while waiting at the dentist, we discovered together that she knew all of the sounds to blend and read Green Eggs and Ham effortlessly. My third child provided my first opportunity to be the sole person responsible for training a budding reader. And nothing went as planned.
Everyone agrees that children should be taught to read. While the general population believes that there is a magic age in which reading happens for everyone, students should be given grace to read when they are ready. As teachers, we should have patience in the process for three reasons: specific methods work differently on each student, healthy relationships allow for optimum learning, and challenging trials produce character in us. First of all, we have to be patient in the process because specific methods work differently on each student. I started with the book: Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons. While the book was wonderful, my daughter struggled, and we started at the beginning twice in order to truly build reading skills from mastery. Even after several restarts, there was not enough retention to warrant continuing to press on. Instead of working harder, we took a break. I fostered a love of reading in other ways like reading aloud, and listening to audio books. Recently I heard Andrew Pudewa talk about the Four Language Arts. He encouraged me that one can read with their eyes, with their fingers (braille), and with their ears (listening). By filling my youngest with beautiful literature, she's learning to read and think. We've worked the past five years on reading skills, and she's progressing. Allowing my daughter to "read with her ears" gave me the opportunity to show her grace in her development. Each student responds differently to the same methods.Second,we have to be patient in the process because a healthy relationship allows for optimum learning. We aren't managing products, but cultivating human souls. Understandably, the process can be very taxing on a teacher, especially when you are new to training in reading. If stress overtakes the situation, opportunities to cultivate a love of literature diminishes. I don't want to wait until my daughter can read independently to introduce her to wonderful works that transport her into new experiences and new worlds. Her comprehension isn't lacking, and her heart is so tender to stories. If books trigger fear and frustration in our relationship, then learning will stop. She will sit and listen to an engaging story for hours and read with her ears. Reading quietly to yourself is a modern practice. Why would I think less of reading with her ears? Patience protects the sweet bond between mother and student and provides room for growing together.Lastly, we have to be patient in the process because challenging trials produce character in us. Beyond the utilitarian goal of having readers, sometimes God asks us to do hard things for the sake of developing our character. I'm sure that one reason he gave me a struggling reader was to humble me and foster compassion for other moms who encounter similar difficulties. I have also come to appreciate the strengths my child has in other areas. Cultivating other strengths, I am able to encourage my daughter to see herself rightly as a child of God who was made perfectly. God is still working on all of us, and being patient in the process with the least of these produces something greater than a single skill: character.
As teachers, we should have patience in the process of training young minds to read because specific methods work differently on each student, healthy relationships allow for optimum learning, and challenging trials produce character in us. Your children will appreciate a trusting mother who offers grace in order to gain the trust of a tender young soul.
Betsy Strauss is an unexpected homeschooler, mother of three, who is in a relationship with a sweet man for life. She loves reading books, drinking coffee, and learning anything with her kids.