23 January 2015

I took part in a challenge last year, one that involved reading 300 different picture books in a year.  When I decided to join in I didn't give much thought to whether it fitted in with how we read books, having realised that it didn't really I decided to carry on with it to see, out of interest, how many we would read.  All the books we read were chosen from our shelves or of those of the library by the children themselves.  We didn't quite reach 300 but we got surprisingly close.  What the challenge did show me was how sporadic our reading* has become in a week.  Whilst I would always expect that we would read more in some weeks than others there were many weeks when we read little or nothing despite it being an ordinary week at home.  I am still mulling over how to include it into our rhythm or whether I should just continue to let it happen when my children want it to, this would be on top of the reading that we do at lunchtime our chapter book and stories and poems related to our learning.

My youngest would like to learn to read, she has mentioned it several times over the last few months. My eldest never made such a request he 'taught' himself to read and now spends a large part of his time reading.  My children learn very differently, as I would expect them to, they have very different characters.  I read to my eldest as much as I read to my youngest but he liked talking about the story, the pictures, me pointing to the words as I read them none of which my youngest wants or enjoys.  I know that reading books to children is part of them learning to read but there are other things I can do to enable her learning if she wants me to.

My eldest learnt a lot from a programme, Alphablocks he watched it extensively and exclusively at this age (5.5), my youngest does so occasionally.  I made my eldest a set of road signs which we took out on journeys, they have either one letter or word on, we have looked at these but have yet to take them out in the car.  I also made a set of labels of words of familiar household objects which I have stuck to the object.  She has been very interested by this idea and has been 'reading' these labels on and off over the last few weeks.  She has also been asking about words that she finds all over the place.  When I tell her about a new, to her, letter she will go and find more.  Slowly she is adding to her list of letters she can identify, at her pace.

I have a set of picture cards which along with a board of letters (like a lotto board) we can use for sound development and the lovely game I-spy.  We have magnetic letters on our fridge which my eldest didn't really make use of and my youngest is not that interested in either maybe now I could remove them, they do drive me mad!  I have thought about making cards with each letter on using a tactile material for the letter, has anyone else used these?  I would need to come up with some activities for introducing them, if you have any ideas...............I like the look of this book and this book but have not seen inside them both to know which would be the most suitable, if at all.  This is a journey that I am excited about, I thought it would be a while before she was interested.  It could also be that whilst she aspires to read she is not ready for it yet.  We will see!

I have realised by writing all this down that I did actually 'do' a lot more than I had thought to enable my eldest to learn to read.

* | * | * | * | *

* my eldest can read independently so I am really talking about the reading I do to and with my youngest child who is not reading as yet.


  1. This is fascinating. Both my boys are educated conventionally, and both learn so differently from each other. At home, I always wait for their 'readiness to learn' with everything in their lives, from weaning to potty training in their younger days, right up to present day, at 15 and 12, with readiness for learning about the world, and their place in it, eg levels of independence, freedom to use the internet, cooking skills, and a thousand other things. At school , their individual 'readiness to learn' is not really taken in to consideration, (which is understandable given the behemoth that is the educational system), but that can cause problems periodically. I never considered home schooling, but reading about how you have approached enabling your children to read makes me wonder about that path, and if I could ever have taken it, particularly with my younger son. Very thought provoking, thank you! X

  2. My children are not home-schooled but the curriculum does take into consideration the many different learning preferences and stages the children are at in one single class room. It can't be easy for the teachers, now that support teachers are rare. t is interesting that Penny experiences the same curriculum differently (we live very near each other). My two youngest boys are one year apart at school but their reading is at pretty much the same level and they have started to read their school reading books to each other. The older one is not very adventurous and does not like to read anything else but the little one has gone to sleep with my books before. He tries to find words he recognises everywhere. I do so admire you for taking the huge responsibility to educate your children! I really do. Have a lovely weekend. Cx

  3. Oh I think this is fascinating - my eldest is at that stage where she's just getting ready to want to read. She's fascinated by the letters in the world around us and I'm sure we could sit her down and teach her but I'm trying to let her go at her own pace. I want her to love reading and I suspect the best way to do that is to let her approach it in her own fashion - at least until she gets to school in September!

  4. i loved watching my daughter learn. her reading came from a ton of mama reading to her, teaching herself via old school sesame street (the children ever watch those?), bits and pieces here and there, playing with magnetic letters, etc. i did buy a learning to read book which is actually quite good, and we did some of that. but i soon realised how unnecessary it was. it isn't like a small child HAS to know how to read. if they desire it, it happens so organically. motivation is everything right?! lol
    now i'm enjoying watching her learn to write more and more. i have never pushed it or done handwriting sheets (ugh), and she wasn't very interested. suddenly, maybe around 6.5, she was wanting to write this and that word. now the desire is firmly there and couple of weeks back she decided she was going to copy out her Frozen novel! She managed a whole chapter lol

    and then there are children that are very tactile and kinaesthetic and reading will never play a big part in their lives. the athletes and engineers. i do feel for those children, in schools who are obsessed with cookie-cutter turn outs.

    happy weekend!

  5. Sounds like you DO do a lot, I like the idea of the signs for road trips. My third and youngest is starting to read and spell and letter sound in school. The funny thing is that I read so much more to the older two but he is the most interested and enthusiastic. He absolutely loves it.

  6. I think children learn at their own speed and in their own way, as you demonstrate in your post, but reading to them teaches them far more than actual reading. I miss reading to my two now, though I have to say that I continued reading to Eleanor right up until she was in her teens, she's always been lazy and was much happier for me to read her a story than her read the book herself. It's such a lovely activity to enjoy together.

  7. How my children learned to read was a bit of a mystery to me. The first one seemed to pick it up magically--mostly by sounding out and writing words--when he was very young. The other two struggled for a few years. I'm sure there was all kinds teacher-created magic going on behind the scenes, but the one constant was me reading out loud to them every night. I've read (somewhere?) that being read to is the biggest factor in helping kids learn to read and love to read, so it sounds like you're already on the right track with nearly 300 books a year!

  8. Just from what you post "do" a lot. Not just with reading...I admire your determination to live the way that works for you and your family. I know it has not been a easy path you have traveled, but it seems to be working for you all.

  9. I miss reading to my children, it made me sad when they didn't want me to anymore and just read for themselves, I am too slow apparently................

  10. I love the gentle approach you are taking to literacy. Both my girls learned to read (Honey is still learning) by reading alongside me as I followed the words with my finger, occasionally stopping to let them fill in the gap when it was obvious from the context or rhyme scheme what the word would be. My eldest and youngest easily picked up the letter sounds with very little help from me, we always had alphabets on the wall etc and learning to blend/'sound out' words just seemed to follow on naturally. Honey needed more help and her journey has been at a much slower pace, but she loves books and being read to. Both little ones enjoy Reading Eggs and the Jolly Phonics song which we found on Youtube.

  11. I love the ideas that you have and how much thought you're putting into it. I agree that children do learn organically and what works for one child may not work for another . I started with Bob books with both my kids, they really loved the idea of reading a small book. It sounds like you're doing all the right things.

  12. It's fascinating what you do for your children, my little girl will be three at the end of March and although I love the idea of homeschooling I don't think I can do it, so we have decided to take her to a more respectful and openminded school, something like Steiner.
    But yes, you are doing a great job :)

    Happy weekend!

    Lluisa xoxo


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