A common worry amongst homeschooling moms is whether or not their child is ‘up to par’ with his peers. Particularly when it comes to reading. In fact, one of the most common questions I see on social media is how to help a child struggling with reading.
But what constitutes ‘struggling with reading’?
Kids in public schools are expected to be reading by a certain age. Naturally, homeschooling moms feel pressured to make sure their own kids are also reading by this ‘magical number’. The fact that many public school kids are not meeting this ‘deadline’ is overlooked.
So when a homeschooled child starts turning 7 or 8 or even 9 and still has not mastered the art of reading, social media blows up with moms asking how to help a child struggling with reading.
I used to fall into this same trap.
As a child, I learned to read before I even started preschool. So when my oldest kid turned 3, I ‘just knew’ it was time to teach him to read.
Boy was I naive!
Looking back, it’s amazing to see how much I’ve learned about educating kids over the years. But at the time, I didn’t know any better. I figured that since I had learned how to read at 3, all of my kids would also know how to read at 3. After all – how hard could it be?
I started with the same method I used to learn to read – Hooked On Phonics.
Hooked On Phonics is a great program. Children all over learn to read with this great system. My first kid, however, was not one of those children.
How To Help A Child Struggling With Reading
At first, I was frustrated, Frustrated with my son and frustrated with myself. Why wasn’t he getting this?
I decided to try another program. I did a bit of research and we went through a few free trials before we settled on Reading Kingdom.
Reading Kingdom is another great program. And this time, the program began to work for my son. He started to pick up reading rules and sight words. He was starting to make connections between letters and sounds.
He was learning to read!
And still, he wouldn’t read books. Or anything else.
My son was 7 years old. He knew how to read (the basics, anyway). And yet he still wouldn’t.
At this point, I just gave up. I figured he knew the basics, he would start to read on his own time when he was good and ready. All my time on social media and watching other homeschool moms go through the same thing had taught me that kids will read when they are good and ready – and not a minute sooner.
So I let it go.
Fast forward a few years. My son is 9 years old and we’re at the library picking out some books. I still encouraged reading regularly, and we still introduced new books often, with the hopes that one day something would catch his eye. And today was that day!
My son found a graphic novel (comic book) about Pokemon. He brought it home and had finished all 250 pages by the end of the night.
By the end of the month, he had read every single Pokemon book at that particular library.
And now, at 10 years old, he is finally going through a larger variety of books. He has officially mastered reading. And it only took him 10 years.
After this experience with my son, I was a bit more equipped to handle teaching my second child to read. Or so I thought.
We started right away with Reading Kingdom. You see, I figured it was Reading Kingdom that had given my first son his start, so of course my next child would be a strong reader in no time with this same program.
Nope! Wrong again!
After several months of fighting and struggling, I decided this program wasn’t working for her. It was time to find another method.
I introduced her to Reading Eggs. This program seemed to work for my daughter. She was picking up the basics at least. But, just like my son, even though she was getting the sight words and learning the rules, she just wouldn’t read outside of her ‘school work’.
Remembering my experience with my son, I let it go. She still worked on her Reading Eggs regularly, but outside of that, I didn’t push things too hard. And low and behold, she’s now 8 years old and is finally starting to read independently. The turning point? She found a couple of books about horses that piqued her interest. And now she is reading all kinds of books all on her own.
So at what age should a child know how to read? What constitutes a struggling reader? That’s a good question.
My conclusion is this:
Every child learns to read at his or her own pace. And every child learns best with a method that is best suited to his or her own learning style. What works for one child won’t necessarily work for another.
My third child learned to read fantastically with Reading Eggs. He’s 6 and reads almost as well as his older siblings. Whereas just today, my husband and I have decided that child number 4 will need a whole nother method to teach her how to read. Reading Eggs is doing absolutely nothing for her. So we are on the hunt for a program to use for this little girl.
If your child hasn’t learned to read yet, don’t worry! Barring any learning disabilities (and even with learning disabilities – my older 2 sons both have dyslexia which means they naturally struggle with reading and spelling as it is) kids will learn to read in their own time. Try a method or a program for a while. If it doesn’t work, move onto something else. Keep looking until you find something that works for your child.
Be patient with yourself and with your child. Each child is an individual. Treat them as such. I promise, they will learn to read eventually. If you just keep loving them and guiding them and introducing them to good things, eventually something will just click and they will take off all on their own.
Tell me – what methods have you used to teach your kids to read? Post your different methods in the comment section below so that other parents can get some more ideas as to which method to try next!
About The Author
Charlene Hess spent many years teaching kids before she had her own kids. She now has 7 kids of her own, whom she has been homeschooling for the last 10 years. Charlene still teaches other children outside of her home but finds great joy in exploring the world with her family. Charlene has participated in many leadership training’s with John C. Maxwell. Charlene and her husband Benjamin blog about homeschooling and success principles for kids at https://hessunacademy.com