Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Patience with Children's Learning

My goals for this summer with the kids' learning have been to teach them how to write correctly (David got into some very bad habits in kindergarten so I am trying to help him break them - with Isaac I am trying to prevent bad habits from forming) and help them with their reading. The thing is, my efforts are benefiting Isaac to the greater degree. He is 4 1/2 and can read at a first grade level. David is 6, could care less about reading, and views it as one more way I am trying to torture him. David has always been easily frustrated and hates to be made to do anything. He can read some small words when he tries so I don't think he suffers from any learning disabilities. The light-bulb in his head just hasn't clicked yet where reading makes sense to him. It is much easier to have his mother read to him the things that he is interested in rather than struggle to read basic books that don't hold his interest. He has a wonderful memory and can remember anything he sees on television, experiences, or is read to him. Isaac, on the other hand, can read but not retain. In that respect, he takes after me. And so, David and I continue our struggle, as I have no doubt we will continue to do for the rest of the years I need to help him with his learning.

Yesterday, I read an article in Home Education Magazine on the topic of teaching children to read. Tamra Orr was telling the story of how her four children learned to read. Her first child learned at six and was reading at a high school level by age 9. Her second child learned at age 12. Her third learned at age 13. Child number 4 taught himself to read in an hour when he was 6 and has been reading ever since. All of her children now read and write well, regardless of the time-table. She states:

I became continually more aware of how much this culture focused on reading as the hallmark of intelligence. Illiterate equals stupid, right? . . . Well, believe it or not, there was a time would no one could read. Were all of those people stupid? No, they simply found alternate ways of learning. . .

Don't misunderstand. I think reading is pretty essential in today's world. . . My personal literacy formula is three part: 1) Be a role model and read yourself for education and pleasure; 2) Read to your children, and 3) Have books all around the house so that kids can pick them up when they want to. Perhaps I should add 4) Recognize that every child has a different timetable for reading and while s/he is not reading, s/he is learning all the time in other ways.

Well, I do 1, 2 and 3 on that list and I know #4 is true as well. I don't think I would have the patience to wait until David is 12 for him to learn how to read. Nor do I have that option as I have chosen to have him in school. So, somehow I need to find a balance between having patience with David's personal timetable and getting him to meet his school's timetable. Just one more challenge on the parenting journey.

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