As you might know, I was a teacher for about 10 years. I loved it! And I think I was pretty OK at it too – I enjoyed being in the classroom and planning lessons – and most of all seeing the lightbulb moments which occasionally happened. I used to say that being a teacher wasn’t what I did but was who I was. So when the chance came for me to homeschool Little Miss, I thought that this would be perfect!
I had so many lovely ideas of how it would work. We’d snuggle down in the mornings, books in hand, reading to each other, sounding out new words and enjoying the adventures in our stories. She would listen carefully to the stories I told her, asking good questions and becoming fired up about the world of words. It was going to be perfect. Admittedly I knew that she wasn’t a particularly strong reader because of her chequered schooling history, and last September she was unable to read any simple words. But…we had worked hard over the year to build her confidence and her ability to read – even managing to pass the Year 1 Phonics Test (to the amazement and delight of her teacher), so I thought that we could build on this!
Well…that is NOT how it has turned out!
I had everything prepared – I’d even bought the whole set of Chip and Biff books (still can’t decide if I love them or hate them!) so we had something to follow. We sat down at the table for the first morning and it went pretty smoothly. There were some moments of angst when she couldn’t read simple words I knew she knew (angst from both of us I hasten to add!). A few tears when the ‘b’ and ‘d’ became mixed up again and a bit of frustration when I asked her questions about the story. I didn’t worry too much – it was the first day after all – soon we would be immersing ourselves in new worlds and adventures – wouldn’t we??
4 weeks later – each day looks pretty similar to the first. She is still struggling with ‘b’ and ‘d’ and will still do anything she can to get me to read the sentence or tricky words for her. I’ve become much more adept at recognising when she is just in one of those moods where nothing is going right, or when she truly can’t understanding how to break down a word. I’m getting pretty good at knowing when to walk away from the table and give her chance to calm down and when to push a bit harder as I know she can do it. And we are moving through the Chip and Biff books at a pretty OK rate!
But it is painful! Like, really seriously mind blowingly painful! To me reading was always such a huge pleasure – I lived for reading books and spent most of my childhood with my nose deep in a new adventure. Little Miss definitely does not have the same feelings. I hold onto the fact that she IS learning to read and she IS making great progress. But I am having to let go of some of my more rosy hopes for us reading together, at least for now. I’m hopeful that, once we work through these difficulties, we will emerge together, exhausted, a bit frustrated, a little bit teary but delighted to have made it through, and eventually we will have time to enjoy reading, rather than seeing it as a chore to get through each day!
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