Learning to read – because he wanted to

Ronnie shares his family’s experience of their first 18 months of home-based education.

We have been home educating our two children (8 years 9 months and 5 years 9 months) for the past 18 months. The elder had been at school for P1 and P2 at a “good” school.

We have three “compulsory” subjects:  numeracy, literacy, civility.

The five year old wasn’t that interested in reading, much preferring Lego and Playmobil. We backed off on the  reading only doing a few minutes of “jolly phonics” per day.

In December 08 he was probably behind the average primary one kid in reading. At bedtime stories, (we were on a book of pretty gory Greek myths which I was keen on) , I started asking him to read the easy words, maybe 1 in 20. If he didn’t know i might help or say the word and a swiftly move on. I would always explain if English was displaying its typical inconsistency.

Then he  started  asking  me to read a book about “Thunderbirds” , which he watches a lot on DVD. This book is a “fan” book, really written for adults, anally describing each episode’ plot, and having biogs of characters and descriptions of the machines.

Soon the words that I was pointing out to him were the bigger words rather than the shorter ones. Then he started coming in to our bedroom at the break of dawn and asking to be read the stories.

I told him that if he was going to wake up his father, HE would have to read the stories himself to him. As before, if he got stuck I would give a clue to the vowel sound, (the rendition of vowels sounds in written English being frankly bonkers), or just read the word with no delays , we would just get on with the story.

Curious, I estimated his reading age the other day, using a standard test, at about 7 yrs 6 months, i.e. he has moved about two “reading years” in 3 months, because he wanted to.

Starting out in home education has been likened by some newbies to jumping out of an aeroplane and hoping the parachute will open! Yes, it can be a scary step to take, especially (to continue the analogy) if the plane you are in is about to crash and you are left with no other viable option; however, once that parachute opens (which it will!) you will experience both relief and a new found sense of freedom. Read some of the other stories that have been contributed by home educators and get ready to take that plunge!


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