Celebrating and Learning to Read

We celebrated the kids’ graduation today at Chuck E Cheese’s with their grandparents. Well, we had actually planned to go rollerskating, but the new summer schedule sent us to our plan B this morning! But it worked out great. The kids had a blast and hopefully their grandmas and grandpas enjoyed it too!

We picked up a couple little gifts as well. Ava got the dvd Nim’s Island that she’s been asking for for months. Noah got a fishing (yes, fishing, I know…) game he’s always wanted, and Amora some little monkey puppets she loves. She’s a big fan of monkeys, except for the “scary monkey” she saw on TV one night. Chris Griffin’s “Evil Monkey,” for those familiar, scared Amora when she saw it when John and I were watching TV one night. Yes, the kids know Family Guy. We’re not great on the censorship I guess. John is in charge of turning the channel if something too violent comes on that would scare them…like when Peter fights that rooster. But we thought the Evil Monkey wouldn’t be that bad. She did not like him though.

The kids also got some new books. Ava got some beginner reading books. Noah, some letter sound books, and Amora a picnic food book. Ava jumped right into one of hers in the van and wants to keep them there for van rides to color them and read them.  She was also reading Amora books in their “fort” in the living room the other night. She said she read four books to her.

I’ve actually been asked about reading several times recently. What if a kid doesn’t want to read? What if they don’t learn when we think they should learn?
Ava has naturally taken to reading and writing. The only times she’s backed off have been when I’ve been too “teachy” about it. If she gets to do it on her own, for her own enjoyment, she really is in to it. Will my other two be so enthusiastic about books? It’s hard to tell now, though it’s starting out well since they do love books already.

Nonetheless, it does make me think about how I would handle it if one of our kids didn’t show an interest in reading by, say, six or seven, the age that current institutionalized schools expect it.
I think again, about how kids learn best…did we teach them to talk? Well, not exactly. We didn’t sit them down as toddlers and make them copy us over and over. We may have encouraged it sometimes with a big smile, but it came naturally. Children are surrounded by conversation. Kids WANT to be part of the adult world. They want to do as we do. They are driven to learn and do the things we do (even the things we’d rather they didn’t do!). If kids see something as useful, as important, as something those around them are doing and enjoying, they WILL want to do it too!
Now, some kids learn to talk before they’re a year old. Some don’t learn until they are three or later. But, barring any underlying condition, if they are around people talking, they WILL talk. You couldn’t stop them if you tried!
I think that can be applied to most things. Reading included. If children are around adults that like to read, that read for fun and for necessity as well, they will want to pick it up. Maybe they will want to start at age three, or maybe at age 10, but they will desire to do it too…if they are not forced. If they’re confidence is not harmed by bad grades. By expectation. By disappointed teachers and parents. By punishment. By the feeling they are falling behind everyone else.
If let to be, kids will learn. They are awesome learners.

I’ve read many articles and book chapters parents’ have written about how and when their children learned to read. They all have a range! Just like everything else. Kids are ready to learn things at different times. WHY do we insist to put a concrete age on when a kid needs to read? An expectation they must meet or they “fail,” lose their confidence, and become labeled. I’ve read of many kids who never took to reading but then found a book about something they were interested in and just picked it up and read it, amazing their parents. They weren’t “behind” or “illiterate.” Not in the least. Another perk of homeschooling, these kids were able to learn at their own pace without failing. While at the same time, another child, maybe even in the same family, who starts reading at age three, isn’t slowed down and can learn at his own pace as well.
Yes, reading is useful and important, and a great way to learn, no doubt. But I’m all for letting the child decide when they find it useful enough to learn.
Reading about these parents experience may confirm my thoughts, but I can see these things in our own kids, which is what matters most to me. I see how they learn best and what inhibits their learning. Reading to our kids, having books available to them that interest them, bringing them to the library and letting them choose their books, giving them reading games and activities to play as they choose, fun songs and crafts about words and letters all are fun ways we surround them with reading opportunities. AND, maybe most importantly, let them see mom and dad reading!

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