The most horrible words I’ve ever heard as a mom came when Kgirl was 7, almost 8. She was learning to read, nearly ready for chapter books, and had been doing a great job with it. But then hit a wall.
And under normal, rational circumstances, I would have respected that, and waited. But it was a time I was under pressure, felt pressure in a lot of areas of our life, and I felt the need to prove that at least our homeschooling was doing awesome. So I pushed.
Kgirl had always been a bright child, and our methods of homeschooling allowed her to follow her interests and explore learning on her own terms, so she was often ahead of the curve.
And reading, well, reading was just another way to show that. She had a little friend who was fluently reading, and others her age were reading, she could too, up to a point.
and boy did I screw up. and I knew it the day I heard her cry out in frustration “I hate reading!”
It was like a slap in the face. A huge wake up call.
Oh my goodness. What had I done. In my desire to compete, to prove to others that all was great, I had killed the love of reading, the love of story, in my baby girl. A girl who loved to learn, who was so very gifted with storytelling.
Immediately I stopped all reading instruction. I knew from the many many homeschooling stories I had heard that kids learned to read anywhere between 4 to 14, and very often, it later, not sooner.
Where my head had been I have no idea. I knew the truth, and had bought into the the lie instead, and damaged my baby girl.
For the next year and half, I read aloud to her, we listened to audio books, and made up songs and stories together. But never, ever did I ask her to read to me during that time. Never did we do another drop of reading instruction.
One day, when she was 9, she found a book in a bookstore that struck her fancy, one that she believed she could read, that would be worth her time and energy to read, The Ruby the Fairy by Daisy Meadows.
I was cautiously thrilled, and was willing to buy any and all of the series for her. I don’t remember where she went from there. She listened to nearly every children’s audio book in our local library. She read and read and read.
Last year when I totalled up her book list, she had read or listened to over 100 books in one school year. This year, I’ve yet to tally up her book list, cuz frankly it’s so damn long. She finishes 4-8 books a week, writes her own stories, and hungers for new authors that grab her imagination and fill her soul.
Kgirl’s love of story, her love of reading, isn’t because I forced her to read, required her to read. Quite the contrary. I nearly killed her desire to read. Her love of story is because I got out of her way and strew in her path stories that grabbed her heart and mind so much that she fell in love with them.
Pushing her to learn before she was ready was my greatest, hugest, biggest homeschooling mistake ever. One I hope I never ever repeat.
Instilling a love of learning, a love of story, is my greatest homeschooling success – and it didn’t really come from me. I just got out of the way, and trusted God do His work repairing the damage I had done, and let the authors and stories that captured my heart, capture hers.
Today, if you ever see her in real life, she’ll be reading a book. She always has a book with her – either a paperback, or a library book, or her kindle, or she’ll have her ipod tucked into her pocket, ready to listen to the next bit of a story.