I have been homeschooling long enough that I should know this, but sometimes even moms forget their lessons. Here is what I have (finally!!) remembered today: Homeschooling works so well because you can help kids to learn what, when,and how they learn best. I know this. Really, I do.
Still, I have been getting more and more stressed lately because Charlie is now 7 years old, and no where near reading. He has a few sight words, of course, but his progress has been moving at a much slower pace than my anxiety ( I know, I know - my misplaced issues rather than his errors).
My approach to reading with both boys has always been to focus on encouraging their love for reading first and foremost, rather than pushing them to develop the actual skills and end up becoming good readers who hate to pick up a book. I think that generally I have succeeded - both boys look forward to lots of reading at bedtime and throughout the day, and they have story books lined up one after the other so that we are never at a loss of what to read next. William is now a really good reader (after a slow-by-common-standards-start) who has a book with him almost all of the time, is always happy to share his list of favorites if you are looking for something to read.
But Charlie was struggling. The preparing to read, leveled readers that I had for him (that worked well for William, I might add) were completely uninspiring to him. He was not at all interested in them, and got by with reading as little as he possibly could while still feeling that he was keeping up with his older brother.
Finally, yesterday, my brain somehow clicked on again. I realized (right after he said "Mom, this is how it is") that those readers were excruciatingly boring and infantile for my oh, so grown up son. He wanted a good story. He wanted adventure. Drama even.
So we stared reading The Fire Cat by Esther Averill together (maybe not high drama by adult standards, but not bad to a 7 year old). We sit side by side and read it together. He reads the words that he is able (smaller sight words, names that he can recognize easily, what he can guess from the illustrations or the sentences themselves) and I fill in the rest. And, Viola!! A book that he is bringing to me himself throughout the day to read. A book that has him begging to read just a few more pages at night before we shut out the lights. And a 'real' book, where he recognizes enough of the words that he feels his as 'really' reading. The other important fact being that each time we pick it up together he is reading more and more of the words on his own.
So, there you have it - my lesson for the day: listen to your kids. If something is not working, try something new. There are a million different ways to learn, and what works for one person will not necessarily work for another. The more I remember that, the happier we will all be.