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Sunday, June 15, 2008

All in the Timing

I remember once (I was about 14) hearing a woman I admired discuss the fact that she and her family kept putting off their happiness. "We'll be so happy once the house is paid off. We'll be so happy when summer finally gets here. We'll be so happy when..." She finally realized they were putting off their happiness for a day that might not come. The lesson, of course, was to make today everything you want it to be, and I remembered the lesson well.

Unfortunately, when you try to squeeze all you can out of time, you can have a tendancy to get in a hurry. Everything starts to feel rushed to the point that you are missing the fun again. It hit me the first time when Mags was a baby, and I was worried about what age I ought to start allowing her to get the mail by herself. Talk about gettng ahead of myself! It requires balance.

It has taken me a bit longer to balance the today/tomorrow view with homeschooling. I've heard so many people criticize the home educated child who cannot read at 7, and that added pressure to my task of teaching my kids. Our schooling approach (actually, it would apply to every part of our lives) in unschooled. Super unschooled. There are so many learning opportunities in our house that I couldn't stop the kids from learning if I wanted to! But that fear of criticism coupled with the tendency to rush so as not to put off life made me quite anxious when my girls were not reading at 6. Oh, they had shown interest in it for a while, learning a few sight words and the sounds of the letters in their Dick and Jane books (or as Bailey calls them, Jick and Jame). But when I tried to do the "Teach your child to read in 100 easy lessons" every day, it was like pulling teeth. Not because they wouldn't do it, but because they just couldn't. I would end up frustrated and worried. I finally had to let it go. My kids were not meant to be proficient early readers. It was a small consolation to me that they knew how to bale hay, shoe a horse, make bread, grocery shop, and so many other things. I had failed to produce early readers.

Then one day I overheard the three little girls playing house. They were dividing the list to find in their 'store', and Maggie told her sister to get the milk (remember that many of us cannot tolerate dairy). Nellie asked, "What if I can't figure out which one it is because they all look alike?". The reply? "Look for the one that says Lactose Free." By sitting at the table and staring that the container enough times, they had figured out what it said. Without my realizing, they had learned to read. I had put the 'don't miss out' aspect before the 'in good time' aspect.

Now, apparently, I need to pass that lesson on to my kids. I heard arguing in the bedroom between the 12 year old and the almost 8 year old. I went to see what it was about, and they were fighting over who gets to get married first.



Bren said...

Too cute....lactose free is easy for them to read!! Yes, there are SO many opportunities for learning.

Henry Cate said...

I was a late reader. I really didn't get it until fifth grade. Our older two daughters followed suit, not reading until nine and ten. But they both made up for lost time. Then went from reading first grade level to twelve grade level in two years.

Swylv said...

thanks for sharing this. We talked about this at HavDalah because the ladies there were telling me my son seems very bright and talks like a grown up and I admitted yeah but he can't read yet and since we home educate I take a lot of smack for it from the family. They said in some countries they don't even teach reading til age 7 but of course Hebrews teach reading at age 3, to read Torah at age 5, Mishnah at age 10, Talmud at 13, married at 18, career at 20 or something like that.

dccdmom said...

I have late readers also. It can be really hard when you homeschool, since people are always wanting to quiz your children to see if you are teaching them well enough. My 11 year old(5th grade) is only this year reading independently, and probably only at about 3rd grade level. Luckily she got her Dad's math gene though. She's tested out at 7+ in math.

stampinlady said...

I struggle with this some as well. My kids are 10 and 11 and are doing good, but my son can hardly spell. Now, he can read almost anything he wants to, but the spelling just has not clicked no matter what. Which, in turn, affects his writing. So yes, I do know about that worry.