Putting beliefs into practice

Miss Beccaboo still isn’t reading.

The funny thing is, she can read. She reads whole sentences like “Jane rides the mule past the gate,” or “Bob had nine dimes and gave me five.” She knows the rules and how to sound out the words (something Yo-Yo never learned to do), but it still hasn’t clicked.

This bothers me more than I thought it would, perhaps because she’s a girl or maybe because she so badly wants to read. I don’t want her to know that I’m concerned, so I have to actively tamp down my worries and play it cool. I wonder if I should do something else, try a different method or drill her more often. I’ve even considered teaching her over the summer.

It is not like me to worry so. I believe that The Learning Time Table bestowed upon us by The System is one hundred percent bogus. I believe that there are different types of learners and different types of intelligence, all of which are equally valuable.

Considering all my noble ideals, my angst over my daughter’s reading, or lack thereof, is ironic. Instead of fretting, I should be thrilled that I have this incredible opportunity to put my beliefs into practice. I’ve always said kids learn when they’re ready and here I get to watch the amazing process up close, firsthand! Whoo-hoo!

While I’m not exactly thrilled by this opportunity, I have enough common sense to know that pushing Miss Beccaboo is not the answer. Even though I strongly believe this, and have lots of research to back me up, I have to repeatedly remind myself to stay calm. Otherwise, I fall victim to the senseless “shoulds” and “have-to’s” of our culture. And that’s pointless.

So when the school year ended, I steadied my resolve and determined, all over again, to simply let Miss Beccaboo be. I shelved the reading workbooks and turned her free. We don’t talk about reading (not that we discussed it much before, but I’m making a point to avoid the topic) and instead she does chores and plays, often combining the two in delightfully quirky ways as is her custom.

This is what happens when I ask Miss B to peel the boiled eggs.

Technically, I’m not doing anything to help her read, unless you count our fun read alouds and the books on tape she adores. To proponents of our country’s (tortured) educational system, perhaps this approach seems negligent. But I beg to disagree. Sometimes doing nothing is the hardest thing to do.

And that’s something.

About one year ago: Cottage Potatoes
About two years ago: Orange Julius, Swiss Chard with an egg on top


  • tiney-little brother

    I was a bit late learning to read, and home schooled. I wonder if Mom was worried about me. But I remember when it started to click. Mom made me read Reddy Fox the whole way through. I remember getting very frustrated. I kept coming to words I couldn't make sense of, and I would go for help, and Mom or brother would push me to sound it out, and I think she forced me to keep at it that way. Maybe halfway through it clicked and then I read the book twice more. Do you remember when it started to click for you?

  • Anonymous

    Sometimes I don't think it is a matter of not being able to read, but not believing that they can read. I kept tellling my daughter, "yes, you can" and eventually she realized it herself and is taking off in that department. She also decided that every letter was a "d" or "n" when I asked her what was "this letter" for a while and I was much exasperated (on the inside) until one day she "knew" all her letters. Each child certainly does things their own way!
    L. in Elkton

  • Mama Pea

    It sure seems to me that you're doing it all the best way for her. (Hard as it may be for YOU!) Thankfully for your daughter, she isn't in a school system where the "wrong" teacher(s) could scar her for life. (This isn't being over-dramatic, sadly it happens all the time.) Hang in there, Mom. It will come.

  • Anonymous

    Your daughter will be fine. My brother learned to read in first grade (the last grade he completed before going to college) and then stopped when he was taken out of school. He picked up Tolkien at age twelve and has been an avid reader since. I was not taught how to read at all, just asked my mom to point to the words when she read aloud to me. I think that I am a much slower reader than most, but I studied English in college and it wasn't a problem (I just avoided Russian lit.). There are so few of us who lack "schooling" that I can imagine how hard it must be to trust that your children will be okay. Just know that there are examples of us being okay…. I must say that I did enjoy my way of learning to read. It meant more time reading with my mom and I watched the words most when we were reading my favorite books, since I had looked at the pictures many times already. And then one day I picked up one of the books and read it almost all of the way through on my own, and we were all pleasantly surprised (and I'm sure my dad heaved a sigh of relief) and that was that. Then again, I love words and reading. Getting home-schooled or un-schooled kids to do stuff they don't enjoy, that's hard.

    Take care,

  • Anonymous

    I totally agree with your strategy. I could barely read by 2nd grade. I could decode, but anything beyond that…nope. One night, I suddenly started doing it. I became a voracious reader and still am today over 20 years later.

  • You Can Call Me Jane

    Holding fast and not pushing is difficult, but I agree it's often the best thing to do. Barring any learning disabilities that may warrant specialized instruction on my part, I, too, am trying to take the laid back approach with Sadie when it comes to learning. She is SO different from Sam (who to this day only needs to be told once how to do something and he's off). Her mind just works differently and while she's eager to "do school", instruction goes in one ear and out the other.

    I have a feeling I'll be coming to you for advice when I need to put my beliefs (that each child has their own time table despite proper instruction) into practice down the road:-).

    Thanks for being open about this.

  • Cookie baker Lynn

    It sounds like you're doing the very best thing. You've given her the tools, you read to her, and you're not making reading an onerous chore. It'll come and your relationship will be intact.

    BTW, she sounds like a delightful young lady. Creative, to say the least.

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