Tuesday, October 9, 2012

My reluctant reader

My son, Mr. Conductor is a reluctant reader.
And I must admit, I make it a lot more difficult than it is...
Why?
Because I LOVE reading.
My girls love to read- especially Ms. Books. It's her favorite hobby, according to her. Her statement: I adore reading. [lots of emphasis on adore]. Sass  says she enjoys reading fun books. She loves a good rollicking adventure with a lot of hilarity.

Mr. Conductor is a reluctant reader.
He loves to be read to but does not like to be the one reading.
We started off with Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons... the same book I used when I taught Sassafras to read. The book she never finished because she just caught on and flew... He hated that book. I forced him through to lesson 53 and then admitted it wasn't working for us.
We moved on to the B.O.B. books. He enjoyed reading the first set and did very well. We moved on to the second set. He immensely disliked them. I was flummuxed and frustrated.
I tried a few other books... some Dr. Suess. I never realized how long Green Eggs and Ham was until trying to read it with him. Too long. Too repetive.
He read some of the Lego: City books.


Those kept him going for awhile. He loved the pictures and the simple story lines but he needed something that would push him to the next reading level.
Then Ms. Books pulled out one of her favorite childhood books: The Frog and Toad Treasury
He liked it and I was thrilled because it was an at-grade-level reader for him. While he enjoyed reading it, some days getting him to read was just like me trying to pull his teeth out. I learned that we couldn't read a whole chapter in a day. Some days we'd work to read four pages and that would be that. It frustrated me but the more I pushed the worse it got. This was not the way I wanted things to go- I wanted to help him develop a love of reading and we were quickly heading the exact opposite direction. That was last year.

Over the summer I didn't press the reading issue- I had him doing Explode The Code workbook pages two or three times a week and he'd bring home a stack of books from the library every week, books that he would mostly "read" by just looking at the pictures. We continued family read-aloud time during the summer so he was hearing great stories and he's never lacked for imagination.... and he's always ready and willing to be read to.... but oh, how he doesn't like to be the reader.

Friends and family assure me I am not "doing it wrong". Statistics show that most boys are reluctant readers, especially last borns, like Mr. C. Boys need action and adventure and moving and jumping and lots of general squirreliness in their days. Many have said: Boys don't catch on to reading until about age nine or so, so don't worry about it, just keep at it. And yet I worried over it. Would my son, the reluctant reader be the  trip-up on this homeschooling adventure? Was I a failure at teaching?  Yep, I turned it all on myself, his reluctance to read is all my fault. Kinda sounds s-t-u-p-i-d when I read it in print right here. Sigh. This adventure isn't about me, or about one component of our education journey, it's about raising well-rounded knowledgable, loving and giving children with lots of character- good, strong character. I obviously had some work of my own to do in light of these feelings... it's a process, and I'm working on it....

Next, I picked the brain of a dear friend who's an elementary teacher and we discussed Mr. C and we discussed me. And we developed a plan.
The boy is squirrely- he needs movement. 
The boy craves action and adventure- lets find ways for him to read about it.
The boy has heard my grumblings and has taken it to heart- I need to build his reading confidence.

So here's what the boy and I are doing--- We picked out a Nate The Great book from the library because he found it interesting. It's about a half grade level under his current grade level, but we're looking to build reading confidence and he picked out the book- so we're going with it. Lastly, he's allowed to walk around, spin in circles, lay upside down off the couch etc. while he's reading aloud to me.
Results: Good. Yeah, it's still a novelty to him to be able to "goof around" while reading so we may see some slacking next week or the next but right now I'm seeing great progress. Instead of asking how many pages do I have to read, he just reads until I say we're done (around 15 minutes). Then he asks how many pages he's read and is thrilled to find he's reading 6-8 pages instead the usual four.

I am currently hunting up the next book for the boy. I'm leaning towards Geronimo Stilton as I think the funnies and the pictures will entice him.

What else we do to encourage reading:
- Family Read Aloud. We're finishing up Blood on the River right now- a story about Jamestown that is riveting us all.

-We have stacks of books all over the house- everyone is encouraged to just pick up a book and read.
-Ms. Books has taken to reading the Chronicles of Narnia to Mr. C at bedtime (currently reading The Horse and His Boy) and the nights she's not reading to him, Mr. Steady is reading a boys devotional book with him.
-Mr. Steady is reading. My man is a reluctant reader also and since he sees it in his son, he's decided it would be helpful for the boy to see his daddy reading. Mr. Steady has just finished reading this book: Hallowed Ground: A Walk at Gettysburg.

Also- I found this article in The Old Schoolhouse's new e-magazine to be an encouragement.

There are days when I'd rather teach high school biology and geometry (yuck) rather than sit down and continue teaching my son to read... it's difficult. It's not fun. I pray that he catches on, I pray that he'll learn to love reading. I pray that I won't bully him about reading.
Today I am reminding myself that this is only a blip in the midst of this amazing homeschool adventure. This too shall pass.
And I've decided to knit while he reads. It keeps my hands busy but my ears tuned in.

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