My two oldest children, Captain and Vi, are only about 19 months apart in age. They are the best of friends, and I have loved it.
One thing in particular that makes it fun is that they tend to hit a lot of milestones together. If one of them is doing or learning a new thing, the other one wants to be in on it too. And, just as I thought they would, they have recently hit a new milestone together: reading.
Captain has been on the verge of reading for a little while now. I could tell he wanted to. But he is a cautious child, and likes to take a good long look before he leaps into the unknown. I was starting to wonder if it would actually be Vi that initiated this time.
One morning several weeks ago, we sat down for personal scripture reading at the beginning of our devotional. I have been taking the first 5-15 minutes (okay, sometimes it’s 2, depending on the morning) to read scriptures and journal about them to help model these habits to my kids. I invite them to use the time to look at the pictures in their scripture story books. This time, though, Captain broke down and started to cry.
“I’m tired of looking at the pictures,” he said in frustration. “I want to be able to read the scriptures by myself.”
We stopped what we were doing, right then and there, and did our very first formal reading lesson. Vi, of course, was in on it, too, as I had expected. What I didn’t expect, however, (although perhaps I should have), was how differently they each approached reading! It was so interesting to watch them as they took turns reading on each page.
Captain has a very good memory and has always enjoyed memorizing things. He memorizes things easily just by hearing me recite through them a few times – more than once he has surprised me by reciting an entire poem, song, or scripture that I’ve never heard him say before. He doesn’t want to say the scripture or whatever it is over and over in general, though. He wants to just listen to me recite it, and he’ll pick it up that way. Interestingly enough, he is approaching reading the same way. He is not particularly interested in sounding the words out phonetically. Instead, he prefers for me to just tell him what the word is, and then he can try to remember it for next time. In general, he remembers quite well. Also, he is very literary and is very good at guessing what the next word is by the context of what we are reading.
Vi has a completely different approach. She loves to sound words out! Even if she already knows what the word is, she likes to pretend that she is sounding it out. I’m amazed at how well she does; that method really works well for her. She really enjoys having the tools to figure out how to say the words by herself.
Another interesting thing is that Captain, from the time he was small, was always begging to be read to. All the time. Every book. Several times a day he brings me books, asking for me to read to him. (And he asks his dad. And anyone else he can pin to the couch for a few minutes.) My younger son, Orator, is the same way. Vi, on the other hand, loves to be read to, but often would rather sit and look at the book herself. I remember that even as a toddler, I would often find her looking at books alone, but when I would offer to read them to her, it was as likely as not that she would actually turn me down!
This difference has meant that Captain has been taking learning how to read at a pretty easy pace. He’s not in too big of a hurry because, hey, he’d just as soon have me read to him most of the time anyway! Which is fine. He’s catching on. And I’m sure that once he is reading independently he will be very happy to be able to enjoy books by himself even when I’m to busy to read to him.
Vi, on the other hand, is still pretty fired up about reading. She checked out a Dick and Jane book from the library the other day, and has been working her way through it, bringing it to me when she wants help with a word (she wants to read it by herself as much as possible). She’s thrilled with the thought of actually being able to read books all day on her own. She can’t wait. (Neither can I!)
Math has been the same. Captain wants concepts to be fully explained, and then he can do the work, no sweat. Vi would rather try her hand at figuring it out herself.
Can I just say again that I love homeschooling? What fun to be able to sit down with my two oldest kids and be able to help them to learn how to read, all at the same time, and be able to cater to their pace and their learning style. I’m so excited about this new phase!