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Chris Perrin

Teaching children to love reading

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Many homeschoolers report what a joy it is to be the one to teach their children to read. Has that been your experience? Please share–and share how you have overcome a challenge or two.

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Yes!  The best $20 we ever spent at Goodwill was the unused Hooked on Phonics set that we've used with our three kids.  It is magical to see them go from knowing the sound of each letter to being able to blend them together into a syllable, and then into words.  It sometimes seems like they will never be able to jump that initial hurdle of blending sounds smoothly into a word, but, like many other kinds of knowledge and understanding, the teacher can't make it happen; he/she is a midwife to the student doing the hard work.

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For us, it has been a mixed review. My oldest son naturally picked up reading, on his own, at the age of 3. I do not recall ever giving him a 'lesson.' He just assimilated it quickly. Along came our second daughter and it was another story. At age 6 she still struggled to blend letter sounds. We tried phonics and we tried whole word sight reading. I was baffled. How could my first child read so naturally on his own and my second struggled so much? It was the first time I realized how differently children learn and how important it was to focus on the child as a person. My daughter is ten now and is a wonderful reader. She picked up phonics after adding colored pencils to the lessons. We would highlight the different sounds, blends, and digraphs in each word and each sentence. After a few months, she was able to use less and fewer colors. I am thankful we homeschool so that we can modify our teaching to fit the needs of my children. 

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Teaching my two daughters to read was a great joy.  The two experiences were and are quite different from one another.  Upon learning her letter sounds, my oldest began to string them together and she was reading books in short order.   She wanted to read quickly, and she was more averse to reading aloud.  I have a picture of her hanging upside down on a chair reading a book about ancient history.  My youngest began reading more mysteriously, and later than my oldest.  I must have tried five separate reading programs.  I asked the doctor to ensure her vision was okay.  I do know that the silent K was not mourned silently.  The last thing to happen before she really began to read fluently was that she spent many hours over many weeks listening repetitively to a Frog and Toad audio book while following along with the words during quiet time.  She is now the most expressive reader in our family, and she frequently requests to be the one to read the story aloud.   My favorite part of homeschooling is reading aloud together.  We have had many joyous moments in books when they are so excited that they will actually squeal and jump and run in celebration.

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