Dear Home Ed Mother Me, A Year Ago,
I know you have read all the articles about how some homeschooled children read later, and how they get there in the end, and I know you are trying to have faith in the process, but at the same time you are holding your breath, waiting to see if it is true or not for you.
I know you have filled the house with books, books that you actually read and that you read to your children, and I know you watch as your eldest, now eight, plays with his lego and listens to audiobooks for hours. I know you are aware that his vocabulary is good – see what all that reading aloud has done – and that understands what he is listening to. That he understands a great deal about a great number of things.
I know that together, you and your son, have worked your way through your reading program, and that you have looked for ways to sneak in reading practice in ways that your son can tolerate. I know you have thought hard and researched whether there is an underlying problem, and come to the conclusion that you don’t think there is one, but will keep your eyes open. I know you have walked the thin line between not pushing him to hard, but also not avoiding the whole topic because it feels so hard.
I know you know that he has grasped the general rules of sounding words out, that he knows quite a few sight words, but he is unwilling to read more that about 5 sentences at a time.
But here’s what I – you a year in the future – know that you don’t yet know:
I know that a few days before you go on holiday in the summer you will go to the library. You will pick up a funny, silly chapter book about pirates on a whim, because the cover caught your eye and you are going to the seaside. I know that you will read the first chapter to your children the first night you are all away, and that they will want more but that it is time for bed. I know that your son will nick off with the book before going off to his room (it is probably a key point that he has his own room, and that he isn’t keeping anyone else awake with his bedside light.)
The next morning he will tell you he read three pages of the next chapter and you will hold your breath. He will tell his grandparents too, and you will start to smile because maybe this whole homeschooling thing won’t actually ruin your children. But you will also wait to see what happens next. He will take the book to a restaurant, and when he goes to the beach. He will have his nose in a book throughout that holiday like he has been doing it his whole life.
He will finish the book, and then he won’t really know where to go next, but he will also know that he has finished a book, and that he did it for fun, and that is an important spark.
He will start reading Beast Quest books. Then he will start inhaling them. He will have a sleepless night at another grandparent’s house and not care because he will read two and a half Beast Quest novels through that night, and be mighty proud of himself. He will pick up a book called ‘Spirit Animals’ at the library (which will lead to a conversation between the two of you about cultural appropriation) and he will inhale that too, even though the print is smaller that Beast Quests and the page count is longer.
You will, nonchalantly, as if you don’t really care, stick a reading word test in front of him, and idly suggest he tries reading the words until he gets three wrong in a single set. You tried it before, in late spring, while panicking about your ability to do all this, so you happen to have data to compare him against himself. In less that two months he will have jumped four grades.
He will move into his own room and your early bird will start sleeping later because he is staying up reading in his bed. You will go to the library on a Tuesday and on the Friday have a pile of books to go back, which is good because the reservations you and he put in have turned up.
You will buy him eighteen Beast Quest novels for his birthday and two months later there will be three left under your bed, waiting to be read, being over taken by library books for new series that he wants to try.
He will read the first two Harry Potters, and go straight on to the third.
He will devour books. He will build lego figures of the characters. He will offer up their stories in other conversations, connecting information together. You knew he loved stories, he has bathed in stories since he was small, but now he has them at his fingertips.
I know you have read all the articles about how some homeschooled children read later, and how they get there in the end, and I know you are trying to have faith in the process.
Have faith in the process. He gets there in the end and it is SO worth it.