I am taking part in a month-long link up series called “The Virtual Curriculum Fair”, and this week, our theme is “Playing With Words: The Language Arts”.
When my older kids, “The Batman” and “The Artist” were little, I had no idea how to homeschool, and had no confidence in doing it on my own, so I went with a pre-written curriculum, or as I like to call it now, “school in a box”. While this DID give them a good foundation in phonics, it did NOT give “The Batman” the love of reading.
He has several disabilities which have always affected his ability to sit and just read for any length of time, and since it’s important to me that my children learn to love reading for pleasure, I backed off as soon as I was sure he COULD read.
Many years later, when he was a teen, “The Batman” discovered a Hardy Boys book in the library of the church we attended at the time. He began reading it and fell in love! Nothing would do but having all 66 of the stories eventually. In fact, that Christmas, he asked for a set of the first six books he’d seen at Sam’s Club. Of course, he asked for this about 3 days before Christmas, well after he’d made his wish list and I’d finished shopping. Add to that, we had a horrible snow/ice storm, which caused downed wires on our street, keeping us from leaving our block, as the city had it blocked at each end for a few days. Fortunately, I could go from our driveway directly across the street, into the parking lot of the Salvation Army Church, and go around the building, coming out on another street, allowing me to get to Sam’s Club. I made it there just in time to purchase the very last boxed set they had! Well, “The Batman” was thrilled! Ever since then, for each and every birthday, and sometimes Christmas, I have gotten him the next 5 books in the original series. We ONLY buy the original series. I really feel that the ones which came out as a result of the Hardy Boys TV show are not the books we’d like him to be reading, they are not, in my opinion, as wholesome as the originals, and definitely kind of dumbed down in comparison. Occasionally, I also order them randomly during the year as well. I order them from my local Barnes and Noble, to be delivered to the store, where I pay for them using my educator discount card. (You other homeschooling moms DO have a Barnes and Noble educator discount card, right? Because it gives you 20% off your educational purchases). In fact, “The Batman’s” 21st birthday is next week, and just yesterday, I ordered books 36 – 40 for him. Hopefully, they’ll all come in before his actual birthday!
In “The Batman’s” case, leveled readers did not work well to keep him interested and progressing. When he discovered the Hardy Boys, he was hooked, and now reads a large variety of things, from the Hardy Boys, to Star Trek novels, to Star Wars chapter books he’s been finding in our local library. He can now very often be found sitting for long periods, just reading for fun, something I had despaired of him ever doing!
One of our twins, “The Puzzler”, was eight when we adopted him and his brother. They could not read much, other than their names. While his brother “Mr. Loquacious” really is not all that interested in reading (although he can read better now than he lets on), “The Puzzler”, after the curriculum in a box pretty much failed him, ended up virtually teaching himself to read, using the Sunday comics. No, I’m not making that up. He wanted to read them so badly that he would sit and puzzle over them for hours. he would occasionally ask what a word was, and we’d tell him. Sometimes, he’d ask the same word again the next time, and we’d tell him again. Now, he reads them on his own, rarely asking for help with a word, and reads many books, as well, including books which are really beyond where he is. He simply puzzles out the words, and asks for help when necessary. He LOVES to read now. 🙂
“Mr. Loquacious” is still not interested in reading much on his own, but I know he’ll get there, when he is ready. In the meanwhile, we do lots of read-alouds. 🙂
“The Artist”? Well, once he learned to read, I never had to worry about him enjoying it again. He will sit and read for hours, either fiction or non-fiction, as long as it’s within his interests. For non-fiction, he just loves anything science related, especially natural science. He has also developed a love of writing stories, a very good off-shoot of loving to read.
I’m here to tell you that you don’t ALWAYS need a pre-written reading/writing curriculum. Some children do thrive on those, but if yours doesn’t, perhaps a looser, more relaxed method, such as what we have been doing, would work wonders.
All four of my boys love our regular trips to the library now, and choosing their own books their books, even “Mr. Loquacious”, who usually won’t sit and read.(though I retain veto power over choices), and all four of them love to come home and read
To find out more about the Virtual Curriculum Fair, and to read what other participants are doing, please click the graphic below . . .
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