Teaching your children to read can either be very exciting or very frightening. I was excited to teach my first daughter to read, but I know that that is not always the case with homeschool parents. I’m now teaching my 3rd child to read, and I have learned that every kid is different.
So I’m going to share what I did with each child, what worked, and what didn’t.
When Claudia was 5, we started Kindergarten. We used A Beka curriculum for everything. So that’s what our reading program was, too. We used the Handbook for Reading, the workbooks, and the handwriting program all together. It was fun, and she learned quickly.
However, by the time she was around 7 or 8, she still wasn’t enjoying reading. That’s what my goal was, and it wasn’t happening. I had always loved reading as a child, and I couldn’t understand where we had gone wrong!
At that time, I was an Usborne Books representative. There were always new books coming into our home, either through order fulfillment or through my Usborne purchases. It was very exciting!
One day, as I was sorting and packing orders, Claudia picked up a chapter book on King Arthur, sat down and read the entire book! The trick was to find a book she was really interested in. Voila! After that, she took off!
Claudia graduated from homeschooling in 2014, and is an avid reader and book collector. She loves poetry and the classics, and has a wall of bookshelves in her apartment. My work here is done. : )
When it was time for Chloe to read, we were going through some very difficult personal circumstances, one of which was financial distress. That meant no extra money for curriculum. I did still have the A Beka Handbook for Reading, so we just started with that. Each week, I taught her a new sound from the book, and then reviewed the old sounds.
I still had a few of the A Beka readers (although not all of them), and she worked her way through those.
Fast forward (again) to age 7. Chloe could read, but not well, and not for fun. I was content to let her take it slow, but she was about to join a couple of classes in our Enrichment Class program that might be easier if she could read. Times were still very hard, so I started surfin’ the ‘net.
I found so many free resources that I was able to create an entire program for her from various websites (which you can find here). I also went to our public library and checked out easy readers, like Amelia Bedelia, Frog and Toad, and other similar books. She LOVED them! Within a few months of starting this method, she discovered Magic Tree House books, and just took off on her own!
Chloe graduated from homeschooling in 2018, and is now a wife and mother. She loves to read classic literture and books on current issues. Her toddler son already has his own book collection.
When Nicholas was 3, I was in no hurry to get a reading program. But I read at Raising Olives about how Kimberly teaches all of her children to read early with Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons.
I had looked at this book before, but it didn’t appeal to me. It is very different from A Beka. But I was willing to give it another look, since I had freed myself from the typical textbook thinking. I just happened upon a used book sale at that time and got my copy for $3. Woohoo!
Just before Nicholas turned 4, we started with this book. He loved it and learned quickly! We took it slowly, and we didn’t follow every scripted word. We also didn’t do the handwriting exercises yet. He just enjoyed the reading exercises, and was so excited when he got to read superhero easy-readers on his own!
Nicholas graduated from high school two years early. He collects non-fiction books that tend toward self-improvement and apologetics. He prefers to listen to audiobooks most of the time.
Nathan followed in his brother’s footsteps and learned with 100 Easy Lessons. He also began at age 4. He really took off after about the first 75 lessons. The local summer reading program at our library was the thing that set him on the path to independent reading. Now he enjoys non-fiction, especially books about robotics and engineering.
Catie is the youngest, and her reading instruction followed along with her older sisters. She learned from the A Beka Handbook for Reading, and she was a late bloomer. During her 8th year, we slowly plodded through the lessons, and she thought she’d never learn to read. Two things helped her: receiving pen-pal letters and finding a book about a cat. The lessons had been drudgery to her, but with something interesting, it all fell into place. She is now 11, and reads on her age level.
To sum all this up, I will share briefly what I’ve learned in 21 years of homeschooling, and more specifically, teaching kids to read:
- A solid phonics curriculum is key.
- Finding reading material that is interesting to the kids is usually what will give them the desire to read on their own.
- Don’t worry about spending big bucks; just take it easy and have fun.
- Do read aloud to them, before and after they learn to read on their own. Let them enjoy books without the hard work of reading.
- Don’t try to fit your kids into a box. If they aren’t learning to read when you begin, put it away and try again later.
- Kids don’t all learn to read at age 6 or 7. Some pick it up early, and some late. It doesn’t matter, as long as you keep plugging away!