My oldest started his education in public school. I remember going to conferences with his teachers and looking at his scores compared to other kids his age. He was always below average in reading. Scott and I left each conference wondering what we were doing wrong, what we needed to do to help our son, and feeling like miserable failures. It was the same every year until he got to third grade. In third grade, something clicked in his brain and suddenly his reading took off. He went from struggling through phonics books to reading chapter books in a few short months. He just finished reading The Lord of the Rings.
Our next child also started out in public school. He too struggled with reading and once again Scott and I came away from each conference feeling frustrated and lost. When we decided to start homeschooling my biggest fear was teaching my children to read. The first two years were a challenge. I was beginning to teach number three to read which was painfully slow and number two was still struggling. There was no shortage of self-doubt in regards to teaching my children to read.
This summer something remarkable happened. Reading clicked with number two! I went to his room one Saturday morning to find him sitting up in bed reading. Over the next several days he read multiple chapter books and was constantly asking if we could go to the library. At the beginning of September, we sat down together and set a goal to read 30 chapter books by the end of the school year. He’s already about halfway through his goal and I am one happy mom.
Number three is still struggling but making slow progress. I imagine that in the next year or so she will take off and become an avid reader like her brothers. This year I began the same process with number four. What a pleasant surprise she has been. She’s excited to read and regularly sounds out words with varying success. Most importantly, she keeps trying even when she fails.
So, what’s my point in telling you this? It has become apparent to me that all of my children learn different things, in different ways, at different times. Numbers one and three never learned to talk until they were almost three. Number two learned to speak before his second birthday but I couldn’t understand anything he said till he was two and a half. Number four earned her nickname, Tiny Talker, because she had the language skills of a five-year-old when she was 18 months old. However, I never once worried that my children were below average when they were learning to talk. No one ever told me that I needed to spend more time teaching my children to speak on the correct “level”. Why does that switch flip for us as parents when our children begin school? How often do we stress over making sure our kids are where someone else says they need to be? I’m grateful that I have come to the realization that my kids are individuals and because I love them and have their best interest at heart I can treat them as such.