I've been away from these boards for awhile but I'm in a bit of a conundrum and hoping for some advice. My 7 year old is starting to read, but she apparently isn't meeting my husband's expectations of where she should be. He insists that we need to spend more time every day, and I need to push her harder and that she needs to work harder.
We've had a pretty relaxed approach to homeschooling up until a couple months ago, but then I gave in to his urging and introduced more structure and spent more "seat time" explicitly teaching reading. This was a struggle that neither she nor I enjoyed, and we spent a tremendous amount of time and energy not actually retaining much info. I've since backed off again, and she's doing better with the decrease in stress. She's voluntarily writing stories (albeit very phonetically), labeling drawings, etc, where she wouldn't do anything during our more structured time without lots of struggle.
So here's my challenge: She and I both recognize that she learns better in a more child-led manner. The problem is convincing my husband of this. Any thoughts?
I've been away from these boards for quite awhile as well. :)
Personally, I wouldn't tell him. Not if you think he won't really listen. Men tend to see action= results and sometimes get tunnel vision about other ways, or how less can be more. He wants results and if you are getting more results by backing off then it’s clear that is the action needed.
Maybe put some of her work up on the wall and have her show him things she has done during school time so he can see that work is being done, but does he really need to know just how it's done? I would continue to spend more time but that could be made fun by using reading games or reading eggs rather than extra seat time.
What method are you using to teach her? Are you using phonics/sounding out words or recognising whole words? Using whole word recognition tends to produce faster results but as sentences get more complicated and words get longer children find it harder to use the whole word recognition method.
Phonics, but once we've sounded it out a bunch of times I work on committing it to memory like a sight word. Does that make sense? Reading has been a difficult skill for her to learn, so much so that we actually had her evaluated for a learning disability (none was found). I'm just trying to keep it light and fun, because otherwise she gets stressed out and frustrated.
Sounds to me like the problem isn't your daughter's learning style, it is your husband's expectations. Isn't one of the reasons to home school to be able to take things at the pace and in the style best suited for the child? Perhaps he is getting grilled by a competitive co-worker? That happens to my husband all the time(he works with many spouses of public school teachers), luckily for us, after the first couple months he started to ignore the haters. Maybe your husband is hearing others brag about what their kids are doing and is feeling inadequate? Whatever it is, it would be good to get to the root of it, otherwise it could fester and lead to other "expectation" problems down the line.
A lifelong love of reading is one of the best gifts you can give your child, and making learning to read a struggle or a source of shame will not foster this love. If you need help to back your style, you might look into some Waldorf materials- they don't push reading until around 8years old.
As far as actual help with reading, I have found comic books and graphic novels to be excellent reading material for reluctant readers- sentences are broken up visually so they are easier to take as a whole, the font is always easy on the eyes and doesn't change (unlike in other books), and the pictures help kids decipher the big words. There are tons of great comics out there for the 7 year old age range, as the "graphic novel" style is very popular these past few years.
I would go back to discuss this with your dh, saying more or less what you said in your first post....
Yes, sometimes all that's needed for a breakthrough is a bit of a push to get over a hump. So it made sense to try that, and you did over the past couple of months. But it actually created a fair bit of stress and anxiety because your dd knew she wasn't able to retain what was being taught, and began to feel less capable and discouraged. So the experiment with more structure was worth doing, but has made it clear that she is not developmentally ready for that "push." And so at this point, with her responding so well to a more organic approach and learning well again on her own terms, you need to set the systematic teaching of reading aside for another six months and await her readiness. In the meantime you'll do more of the things that she is ready to master, more of the things that suit her developmentally right now, and you'll of course continue all the holistic literacy-immersion type strategies you're using. In the summer you'll reassess and reconsider the systematic teaching of reading -- although who knows, she may have progressed dramatically by then under her own steam.
That way he will hopefully feel like you've taken his request seriously and not intentionally undermined it, and are willing to listen to his concerns again in the future, but you've made it clear that for now the seatwork is not serving your dd well.
Mountain mama to one great kid and three great grown-ups
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