Reading on one of the blogs I follow about learning to read has really got me thinking!! As my oldest three children all started school, them learning to read coincided with the start of school. As my youngest son has never attended school my approach to his learning to read has been different. I also think that in the same way each child is very different in their learning abilities its also different between how boys learn and how girls learn. Since starting my home ed journey in 2007 I have read many articles, books and talked to lots of other home educating/non home educating parents about different learning approaches. When I first began home educating I really did recreate school at home because I simply didn't fully understand what/how my role was, was it parent or teacher? Now I feel comfortable enough to know that I am both of those things. As a parent I have always questioned my decisions, homebirths, cloth nappies, breastfeeding, potty training etc. I'm the kind of person who worries a lot and has incredibly high standards for myself, which means inevitably that I spend a big chunk of my time thinking I'm never doing/saying/thinking/being enough (although sometimes I'm not!). Its definitely not a trait that I want to pass down to my own children. I have read lots about John Holt, Charlotte Mason and the Steiner-Waldorf approaches to education and I always feel very inspired by their work but its different when you have children that have been to school because they have already had a lot of their 'freedom' to learn altered/changed in a way that is difficult to get back from. I really like to think that after nearly four years my children are pretty un-schooled now and therefore my approaches to things are much more relaxed.
But, this brings me to the question of what age is right for children to read? All three of my older children love reading, they consume books at an astounding rate and our local librarian says we are their best customers! Which I fully believe and even though Ruben is starting his journey to reading, he is no different. He takes lots of books out and we always have bedtime stories and reading time, he loves stories in particular Mr Men, Gruffalo, Narnia. But I feel now that not being able to read is holding him back. I read an interesting article in the EOS magazine recently, it mentioned that even if children read in later life it doesn't affect their reading ability. I've been turning that comment over in my head since I read it but if that is the case then why are there news reports saying the numbers of adults in the UK with literacy problems are so high? And why are children leaving school unable to read or write? Which again makes me question why I'm not pushing Ruben's reading more?
As much as I have loved being able to watch Ruben develop his own sense of learning and discovery I have come to a point where I think he needs to be able to read fluently. I have tried a few times recently to kick things off and I'm always looking at the best options-Reading eggs, starfall, Oxford Reading Tree, Hopscotch etc There are so many different approaches and I'm not sure which I should go for so I'm doing a little of all of it. We have ORT books that I bought a while ago and Ruben likes the characters of Kipper, Biff and Chip, we have some hopscotch books out from the library, I like the starfall website and I've also discovered the oxfordowl website which has resources and ebooks that we can read for free. I printed him a lapbook from currclick, which he enjoyed and did very quickly. His writing is beautiful and he's not burdened with having to learn cursive writing like at school. So we are doing a little everyday and I'm hoping this will work for him.
I can't imagine not being able to read, its one of my favourite hobbies and I love listening to the children talk about books they are reading, authors, giggly parts and their favourite characters. I love watching the three of them swopping books and reading each other's library books, because despite getting 16 books out a week each they finish them all too quickly! Words are everywhere you look and I think it would be very frustrating and confusing to not know what they mean. I hope I'm doing the right thing.