Today Adon specifically asked if we could start reading lessons. According to Charlotte Mason’s theory on developmental readiness, children should not begin any formal school lessons until the age of exactly six or older. Until then, children should be growing in awe and wonder of all living things outdoors and trained in good habits. The order is simple yet paramount for future homeschooling success.
I decided to follow my 5 year old’s lead and start the 1st (of 100) reading lessons. Excited to start, we laid out our cozy outdoor quilt under a shady evergreen tree. The younger two were napping and we had warm blueberry oatmeal for comfort food (mom’s attempt at trying to make good associations with this new endeavor).
We began our first lesson with enthusiasm, repeating sounds of letters out loud, but after a few minutes in, Adon decided it was too simple and blurted out, “I don’t need to learn how to read from this dumb book, I can teach myself to read.” I wasn’t completely shocked by this response knowing my precocious little boy, but I did however think it would have waited at least until lesson 4 or 5, maybe 7!
I had a short conversation about how the writers of this book could possibly have more wisdom and experience in teaching others how to read than my 5 year old, and then talked about the difference of being good verses great. I shared how I can read “good”, but how I wished someone had sat with me at five as an eager learner and taught me how to be an excellent reader. Reading is so much more than learning sounds, it’s learning how to read a lot of material at once and retain most of what you read. It’s comprehension. It’s learning concepts. It’s anticipating what happens next and learning contextualization. And if you learn how to read poorly at a young age, it will interfere with the rest of your learning-life.
This reading program by Distar – published by Science Research Associates, Inc. – has been collecting data for decades on the best possible way to teach children to read. They say,
“We have worked with children at preschool to college levels who could not read and whose parents probably believed in the finality of the labels with which the school had adorned these students: dyslexic, perceptually handicapped, learning-disabled. These labels are nonsense. Almost without exception, the “disabled” students that we have worked with had two obvious problems. The first was that they had not been taught properly. Their confusion suggested that the malfunctions existed in the teacher’s techniques, not in the children’s minds. The second problem was that these students seemed to believe the labels. They hated reading (or trying to read). But the cure for these problems did not involve neurosurgery or wonder drugs. It involved nothing more than starting over and teaching carefully.”
Adon had decided he didn’t want to be a great reader, that being a good reader was enough. I closed the book and would be lying if I said I wasn’t discouraged. I didn’t allow that emotion of frustration or discouragement hinder me for long, however, because I knew that far more important in learning how to read was keeping his heart. I lovingly told my son that “no matter how good or bad he learns to read, I’ll always be proud of him. If you don’t want to learn how to read great right now, go play! Run, jump, listen to the Boxcar Children stories. We’ll pick up this book again another day when you’re ready.”
There’s a couple of lessons I learned here today.
- No formal lessons until age 6, really.
- My sweet Adon will be a trying homeschool student at times because of his forward-thinking – humility will be an ongoing lesson and prayer.
- My ultimate goal isn’t the shaping of his mind (learning to read great) as much as his shaping in character and especially the certainty that he’s loved. This reminder will get me through many, long, arduous homeschooling days and lessons. Remembering always that although I want to teach them with excellence “as if I am teaching for the Lord”, my mothers-prayer will always first be that my son’s names are written in the ‘Lambs book of Life.’ (and if you read about some of the great Christian thinkers of old, you will know their mother’s diligent prayers had a tremendous impact on their legacy).
A failed lesson is usually a greater life-lesson than the original endeavor itself. He’ll be okay. I’ll be okay.