11.20.2012

Homeschooling: Letting your child learn at his own pace

My sons have a long history of being late bloomers when it comes to reading. My oldest son Noah used to trick me by making up elaborate stories while he read aloud. I remember being so relieved, so proud that he was finally reading all by himself! Yes! That is, until I investigated further and discovered the little turd was pulling my leg and making it up as he went along.

Le sigh.

Solomon was a late reader, too. He was not an independent reader until the age of...ten. I know some of you are freaking out just reading that. You might have put your child in tutoring, reading bootcamp, special education, you name it. But he is an awesome kid with a very analytical, creative mind. He was enjoying life to the fullest--who was I to say something was wrong because he couldn't independently read at ten years old? The education specialist at my charter school we attended at the time was really helpful in supporting me while I lived out what homeschooling means to me--letting my kids learn at their own pace, or child-led learning. I stood my ground and we gave him a year before we discussed learning disorders and special education. Much to my delight (and relief), his reading took off like a rocket sometime later. This was just last year. Now he's leisurely reading The Hobbit (my requirement for those who want to see the movie next month).

I wasn't surprised when my fourth son followed in his big brother's footsteps. Cyan turned ten last April, but he was far from knowing how to read. I think he was further behind than Solomon was.  When he attended charter school last year, the teachers were awesome in helping him--they tutored him once a week, they created a learning plan to suit his needs and they allowed him to take all of his tests orally, etc. They knew what I already knew--he was a sweet, bright little boy and not delayed in any way. He was eager to please and neat to a fault, but he was now growing somewhat self-conscious because he wasn't able to read along like his classmates.

I'll admit, I faltered with Cyan. I worried maybe he really did have a learning disability. I just couldn't understand why it was taking so long for the lightbulb to go off. His teachers were putting more and more pressure on me and understandably so, but all I knew was that I desperately wanted to protect my son's self-esteem and preserve his love of learning. Constantly worrying about his progress and state testing was not something I wanted for any of us so we persevered until the end of the 2011-2012 year with the charter school. I knew we weren't going to come back.

I wanted to rededicate ourselves to homeschooling. Truly learning at our own pace, studying the subjects we wanted to and not giving a rat's a$$ about state funding, state testing and graphs that show where you should be in life. I wanted my boy to thrive, and I knew this was something that was going to happen at home.

The boy whose name means turquoise: Cyan (pronounced Sigh-ann).

I'm happy to say Cyan has exploded the code of reading! Wahoo! Yes--you go, boy.

After working three additional days a week with his grandma-mom since September, his reading skills have grown in leaps and bounds. He is fully reading books and stories and spelling words that he was nowhere near being able to read back in May.

But what makes me the most happy is the smile on his face! He is so proud of himself. He wants to read everything now. He can't get enough of books, which hello, warms my fat little bookworm heart. I've been waiting for one of my kids to be a bookworm like I was. I'm so excited at the world that is about to open up for him.

Could he have learned to read in the charter school? Yes, probably. But at what cost? And after how many months? And how many tutors? He learned in the comfort and safety of his own home. No one teased him. No one made him feel like he was behind, or "dumb". We taught him how to read not because we were worried we might not get funding for next year--we taught him so he could finally experience the joy of reading.

I'm so thankful for the privilege of homeschooling. I'm also thankful for my mother, who loves Cyan enough to take time out of her life to help her grandson learn to read.

It takes a village, guys.

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