How I Helped My Struggling Reader(s)

My husband and I have three kids ages 10 down to 6. Because of the spacing of their ages, I’ve basically been teaching a child how to read for over 5 years now. I love to read and I loved seeing my kids grow to love it as well. Teaching reading has been a windy road for us. I thought I had it all figured out when our eldest learned to read easily and quickly. But then I started teaching our middle child. I knew by the end of Kindergarten that reading was a lot harder for her than it was for her older brother.

I was hit with the realization that Ethan learned to read easily because his brain was wired differently and not because I was an awesome teacher!

When we started putting sounds together, Audrey struggled a lot. She would become frustrated very quickly and give up. There were lots of tears. I was frustrated and so was she. There are some homeschoolers who are able to let their child lead the way and they just put off teaching reading until their child is “ready”.  I have a little bit of an issue with that. Yes, there are some things that need to be in place developmentally in order for children to be able to learn how to read, but at a certain point, sitting back and passively waiting on your child, does not benefit them.

In our situation, I knew that Audrey was not a “young” kindergartener/first grader and that was not the issue. In fact, she had a fall birthday. So, we didn’t even start  Kindergarten with her until she was almost 6. She was actually older than most kids in her grade. When she was still struggling in November of her 1st grade year, I made some changes.

I reached out to a friend for advice. She just happened to be a reading teacher before she had three children of her own and began homeschooling them. She had us come over and she worked a little with Audrey to evaluate her progress. She told me that is seemed like Audrey was having to work really hard to remember the letter sounds. She had them in her head, but accessing that information was hard work for her.

We had used My Father’s World curriculum for Kindergarten. So, Audrey knew her letter sounds. Now, I just needed to figure out a way to get those sounds into her working memory. We needed to work on fluency.

I put a hold on going forward in the 1st grade curriculum that we had chosen. Instead, we spent time going over the letter names and sounds for a short period of time twice a day. 10 minutes in the morning and 10 minutes in the evening.

After a month of serious focus on consonant and short vowel sounds, I decided to order All About Reading. From the moment I opened the packaging I loved it. The readers were gorgeous!



We started on lesson one and quickly made our way through the entire first level with no struggle at all! I was completely sold on the curriculum. We suspect that Audrey may have dyslexia and the hands-on approach that used letter tiles and flash cards as well as the work sheets was perfect for her. In a little less than a year and a half we completed levels 1 through 4.

As I wrapped up teaching basic phonics to my daughter, I was coming to a point of hitting a wall in reading progress with our youngest child (Kindergarten age). I know that there are lots of families with similar struggles and questions and thought it would be a good idea to share our process. This video is from June of 2015 and Isaac had just turned 6 years old. In the interest of full disclosure, this is not the way all our homeschooling days look. I’m particularly on my game here. So nurturing and patient. 🙂 This represents approximately 3% of the truth of our life. That is another video!

6 months later, we’ve progressed to lesson 34. It has been slow and steady. The times we’ve struggled most have been when I’ve pushed ahead too quickly. Planning to spend two days on a lesson has helped immensely. Some days Isaac just needs to read stories that are very easy for him. Giving him lots of chances to read things that aren’t a struggle for him makes reading something enjoyable.

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