How I Didn’t Teach My Daughter to Read

* I didn’t buy 101 ways to teach your child to read.  (Okay, I did.  I didn’t use it on her.)

* I didn’t insist she sit and do page after page of phonics worksheets.

* I didn’t use a multitude of flashcards to teach sight words.

* I didn’t teach my daughter to read.

But she learned how to read.

The difference?  Subtle I suppose.  Indulge me while I share the story of how I learned that my daughter could read.

One bright fall day while waiting around outside the speech classroom where two of my children were enjoying speech, I saw bats.  You know, winged creatures studied by all elementary school kids in fall.  So, on a whim, I said to my 4 year old “How do you spell ‘bat’?”  I have listened to many, many, many kids sound out words.  (Did I mention I used to teach remedial reading?)  I have never, ever heard a new reader sound out a word like this.  Usually you have to prompt, remind them of the word, emphasize the letter they are trying to figure out, you know.  She did it all.  She walked herself through the word just as if I had been coaching her, but coaching herself!  Yay!  All that practice paid off!  Except, we hadn’t.  Practiced that is.  I don’t think I had ever asked her to spell a word other than her name before.  We had done a few simple phonic pages, beginning letter sound stuff.  I had given her no formal reading instruction.   She was able to quickly figure out all the words in that family.

This really threw me for a loop. I had put off starting Kindergarten with her.  My other girls started at 4 (or 3) because they had older brothers starting and were ready and eager.  She seemed neither.  Though she would ask when she got to start, she never seemed able to or interested in doing more than a page of schoolwork and then only what she wanted to do.

That night, as we read Bible together, (I was reading from my computer) I could hear her trying to sound out words from my screen (large font ad words).  To satisfy my curiosity, I typed a list of “at” word family words.  She read every one.  She then proceeded to read “op” words and “an” words.  WHOA!

She was allowed to start Kindergarten. 

This was a joyous moment in my homeschooling life, not only nor primarily because it was the 5th of my children who successfully learned to read under my loving care and tutelage, but because it reminded me of a deep truth that  many homeschooling families get to experience.

Learning is a lifestyle, a family event.  Learning happens all day every day.  Learning happens when people lovingly share their lives.  Learning is a byproduct of life.  Most of the time I don’t know how my children learned the things they share with me.  I know people who find conversations with my children to be highly entertaining.  We live a lifestyle of curiosity and inquisitiveness and is shows in their conversations.

We just learn, when stuff comes up, we learn.  School isn’t necessarily this thing we do so many hours a day then get on with our real life, it is part of our family culture.  We are blessed to have the opportunity to live school with our children.  And this story reminds us that they learn more from an environment of learning than from a series of good texts. 

Tomorrow, I’m learning about snails.  What are you learning?

Check out The Homeschool Classroom for other memorable homeschooling moments.

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