Every time I hear someone asking about reading, I get mixed up feelings. I do not know if to shut up, or speak up.
I think all this struggling readers issue, and reading problems, are part of our new impatient and reading obsessed culture. It is our culture what is complicated, not our children.
But before you throw things at me, let me say that reading difficulties are real. But I know first hand that many times, if our attitude changes, these difficulties will stop worrying us, frustrating them, and they will much improve and not hinder their learning in the very least.
Even after diagnosis is made, what are we left with?… much “work” on something our child already struggles with. A diagnosis is not followed by a magic formula to change a child with some difficulties into an instant avid and independent reader. Plus, is avid and independent reader the ultimate goal of our teaching? Not really. At least my goal is broader, even if it encompasses, not the quantity or speed of their reading, but the process of reading as a tool. I also want them to experience the love and joy of listening to the minds and their ideas that print conveys.
When reading comes a bit slower or harder, we need extra patience and to regain our joy. Children can feel our worry and they start not liking their lessons because everything is focused on changing who they are, or on accelerating something that time takes care of itself, without our frantic insistence on trying this and that.
I know there are those relatively new “eye” problems, and the long known “dyslexia”, and I do not want to undermine the gravity of those. But the more fragile our children in reading, the less anxious we should be, and the more appreciative we could feel that we can read aloud so much and for so long. Any of these reading conditions gets better with time. And just because you know about it, and what is good for it, abstain from inundating your child with those things as if you were treating a cold and you expected that, after the treatment, your child will be so healthy as to run a marathon.
Reading for learning, for self educating, should be our life time goal. There is no need to suffocate our children and ourselves all throughout their school years that early because they are slow, have “problems”, choose not to read in their free time, do not read lots of quantity for their lessons, do not show reading independence the year other children their age seem to be reading all by themselves…
I wish I had spent the amount of time I did worrying and finding this and that, trying this and that, simply reading. To them, or BY MYSELF.
Reading comes. Math love comes. Nature study comes. And the best thing is not to put the burden on them, but to enjoy it ourselves, have a positive attitude, model, model, model, and not expect them to do this or that, but enjoy and value their progress, and nurture their love for all learning.
After you feel fresh and refreshed, and stop the worries, etc; then try gently some of the Charlotte Mason style lessons for reading, and spelling. They are great in the right measure!
Unless the child is severely dyslexic, from 8 to 10 years of age, there is lots of growth in reading. But again, warning!!! Children with a slow start will never turn overnight into the child on the other side of the grass who devoured all the Ambleside Online free reads, and remembers every.single.thing he or she reads from books. But, again, that it’s a quality of some children, not the goal of education either!
Life is so short! We spend 4 or 5 years wanting them to read independently, and miss enjoying our immense opportunity to read aloud and learn along with them… then we start lamenting how little time to pre read we have, when we could have spent time reading from the AO/HEO selections and join the conversation that will come once they are older, and reading hefty books. We worry because they read so little, but we miss all the books we should be getting to know ourselves, and discuss with other friends, spouses, and later with them… then there are parents whose children seem to read so much and so fast, and they at times seem so “happy” they fear “interrupting” the child in his gluttony, and explain that some books are to savor and read slowly, – sigh. Not to mention the many areas that round us as learners and persons that we should “worry” a bit more, and we do not even care about.
THIS IS WRITTEN TO ME in particular. I was that mother myself, and I am still very affected by all this new times reading malady! Please, do not get offended, and if this does not describe you, I apologize if I have projected myself a bit in what I wrote, and been harsh in the process.