I kept hearing it from my mom. I kept hearing it from my mother-in-law. I heard it a few times from my husband. “He’s behind in reading!” They were talking about my second oldest son. He was in fourth grade reading at about a first-grade reading level. His older brother was an excellent reader, well ahead of his grade level. But he had gone to public school until first grade so I hadn’t actually taught him to read on my own. I had helped him with the basics, but he also learned in preschool and kindergarten. So with my 2nd son, this was a new test of my homeschooling abilities, and to others around me, it looked like I wasn’t doing so well. This was a very real test of my mother’s intuition.
I had always wanted children who loved reading. I love reading and I got that love from both my mom and my Gran. My mom had a little room in our house with a book shelf and a recliner. It was her reading room and she would go in there for some quiet and get lost in a novel. My Gran not only had a ton of books but worked for years as a librarian in her town. She would read to my sister and me often and our birthday gifts were usually books. I had my own personal library in elementary school and I would read and read and read. Even before my husband and I had children I started building a library of books I thought they might want to read someday. Options that would introduce them to a variety of things from poetry to quilt-making to wild edibles to gospel related topics and so many others. And here my second child wasn’t great at reading. Yet.
Here’s the thing, we live in such an amazing time for homeschooling. The access we have to information is incredible. I had read a lot about the homeschooling journey of other families and I trusted their insights. Over and over I read that often boys develop their reading skills later, around age 10, and not to worry if they are “behind” for a bit. So I decided to trust what I read and trust my own mother’s intuition. I read a ton out loud to my children and my second was the one who would sit and listen the longest. He’d sit for hours listening if I let him. I knew someday he would get lost in a book himself, so I was patient. I heard what others were saying to me about him being behind and my answer was always “behind what?” They’d say something like “Other children his age.” And I would ask “Who decided what age children should be reading by? And why do they try to put each kid inside that box?” There were no good answers for those questions so I just kept being patient, reading out loud, and reading together with my son. He got to a point where he would read a page and then I would read a page. He could read words, he just didn’t love figuring them out. He wanted the story faster than he could decipher the words on the page so he got frustrated. So we went as slowly as he needed.
In the middle of his fourth-grade year all of a sudden he jumped from a first grade to a fourth-grade reading level. It just totally clicked for him. I remember reading with him that day, we were reading a children’s book and he did great. So I just kept challenging him a little more and he kept doing great! It was awesome! It’s one of my favorite homeschooling memories because my child got to learn at his own pace rather than being pushed to keep up with everyone else. This likely would have resulted in him despising reading. I finally felt like I might actually succeed at this. I had trusted and I had prayed and I had done something right! I didn’t give in to the “he’s behind” pressure, I did for my son what I thought was best and by golly, it worked!
When I asked him yesterday what his favorite school subject is he said without hesitation “reading!” He’s the one I will find reading to his siblings or reading alone to himself. He might be curled up with a chapter book or a children’s book, whatever he feels like reading at the time. I love that sometimes I have to ask him to stop reading to come to dinner. My other children are book lovers as well, my buying a variety of books has paid off. My oldest who is 13 recently read The Complete Works of William Shakespeare just because it was on the shelf and he was interested. He read it out loud at night to his 8-year-old brother who was loving it. They peruse the bookshelf to find things they haven’t read yet before going to bed at night.
My two youngest also love their books. I’ll often find them in their own rooms quietly looking at books. I love that they all have a love of reading. And I love that I was able to help develop that! I may not have it all figured out, I may not be good at everything, but I’m putting this one down as a mom win! Let’s hear it for mother’s intuition!
What have you done well for your children this year? When have you listened to that mother’s intuition? Share it, we want to know! The best way to learn what works is to hear from each other. Tell me your homeschooling wins in the comments below!