That Magic Moment

When my son started homeschooling at five-years-old, with me as his highly qualified and trained teacher, I came to the realization that all kids are not created equal.  Some are special.  Some are wild.  Some are funny.  Some are charming.  Some aren’t ready for school even if they are five-years-old.  I’m quite the determined individual and figured that I would do just fine teaching the children God gave me.  After several months of working on the letter F…. without any retention or even slight recognition… I realized my son was not ready to read (or name letters.)  Just for curiosity’s sake, I counted in my daily planner the number of days I had shown him the letter F.  It was 62.  It was like the letter F was new every morning…. just like God’s mercy.  Not good if your goal is reading before grade eight. 

We took a year off from trying to name the letter F.  It was a fun year of frivolity and favorite games.  We played football and frisbee and had foot races.  Then when my son was seven, I showed him this funny squiggly mark with two lines and told him that it was the letter F.  He said, “F”.  It made my heart glad.  The next day…. without me telling him… he pointed and said “F”.  :o)  See!  My teaching certificate was working its wonders.  That year he slowly learned the sounds the letters make…. uncompromisingly slowly.  But reading the letters when they were all lined up was foreign to him.  I diligently pressed on.  We sounded out every Bob book written.  I even made sight word flashcards with neatly formed letters….. but retention was out of our grasp.

When my son was nine, my husband was injured and had four months off work while his Achille’s Tendon healed inside a large black boot.  We took advantage of the time off and travelled the Western USA and visited 18 National Parks.  Since it was January through April, we did take our math books along with us in the van and worked our numbers on cookie sheets while we travelled.  Carschool!  I read aloud to the children and we listened to many books on tape: Rascal, Misty of Chincoteague, and The Twits.  Great pieces of literature that held our interest and kept us spellbound for hours.  But we did not do reading, or phonics or sight-word flashcards.  I needed a break too for goodness sake. 

We arrived home from that trip and to my surprise, delight and utter joy, my nine-year-old son could read.  Maybe he hit his head on a stalactite in New Mexico…. frankly, I don’t know what happened, nor do I care.  But something clicked, he could read… and it had nothing to do with me or my outstanding teaching ability.  I wondered how many hours I wasted on the letter F.

So my advice to homeschooling mothers with non-readers is this: hike into some caves, drive through some trees, fish in streams, count cacti arms, watch sage brush blow through fort ruins and climb a few ladders to cave dwellings.  It worked for me and my son.

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One Response to “That Magic Moment”

  1. karen Says:

    I had one like that! I was so sick of repeating the same things day after day! And finally one day it just clicked. Now if he could just understand numbers! :)

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