One of the things we’ve missed in our normal routine are the bi-weekly trips to the Kumon Center. At the beginning of the year we signed one of the boys up for the Kumon reading program. Two days a week students go to the center for their work. Four days a week they have work to do at home.
Kumon works by first testing the child to assess the current reading level. They then begin the lessons a few steps behind the child’s current level. The idea is to start where the child is comfortable and confident, and then gradually move them on through the levels from there. I’d given it nearly three years to wait and see if anything would get better. It did, but slowly, and I didn’t want him falling anymore behind. It definitely helped get him unstuck from a place I had not been able to move him out of. From my perspective, it not only helped with his reading and writing, but also gave him an overall pride in his work, helping foster a sense of ownership and responsibility. I was happy with the program and would recommend it.
Another thing we started this year was serious reading instruction for the two younger boys. The littlest boys were (almost) 3 and 5 when we moved here. They had their preschooly workbooks with letters and numbers, but also played with trains a lot during school. Their assignment every day was to build a track and do puzzles. We had snack and Bible stories every day in the story corner. During one of our field trips, I read that Abraham Lincoln taught himself to read at age 12. It was then my philosophy on learning to read became, “Well, Abraham Lincoln didn’t learn until he was 12, soooo, we’re good.” The story corner is one of those things we’ve mostly grown out of over the past year, and it does make me sad. We couldn’t cuddle forever.
Looking back now, I’m glad we did it that way, waiting before getting official with the reading. It worked well considering the ages and stages of my kids, as well as the season of life we were in. There did come a point though where I not only started feeling the internal pressure that I should be doing more to encourage the reading, but I could also see that the ability was there, it just needed direction. This is just my personal assessment of myself, but to put it off longer would have been a disservice, and borderline neglectful. I was also starting to become impatient with continuously having to read people’s math directions to them. Continuous frustration is a definite sign that something in the present situation isn’t working.
So we adjusted and changed, as we are all meant to do. My goal was to stick together and combine lessons, teaching both little boys to read at the same time. We began the Learning to Read workbook sets from Christian Light Education, and for a while, the two of them stayed together. After a while, the older one, being two years further along in brain development than the younger one, was able to do the lessons on his own and without needing help. I let him go so he could work independently, while I continued to work with the littlest one. We got about half way through the ten book series when I felt like he wasn’t grasping and retaining the skills, so we paused on those books. I backed up to more basic phonics and sight word workbooks.
The one, who was reading at the Sam and Pam level this time last year, is now at the level that I call “functional reading”. He can read his own math directions and follow along with the words in the hymnal. He can also read unfamiliar stories. He has a penpal to practice writing, which he does on his own. The other one is now at the Sam and Pam level and can slowly sound out the words in his sentence books. I recently ordered and received the Christian Light Education Language Arts books for grade 1, which both of the boys are working through now. Not every mom I’ve talked to likes these books, but I’ve found them to be my favorite books for teaching basics. You have to find what works for you, as there is no only way to homeschool.
When it comes to the end of the school year like this, there’s always more I wish I would have done. But it’s good to reflect also on what went well, and to take a minute to acknowledge the changes that have happened. We couldn’t cuddle forever, but neither were we meant to, and it is well.