There’s a lot of pressure on young children to learn how to read and write; it seems as though this expectation is now in stride with learning how to tie your shoelaces. Just today I heard from a mom whose five year old brought home worksheets to fill out as homework. For kindergarten. Homework.
As home learners, we have the freedom to allow our children to pick up reading when they are ready. We’ve exposed them to countless bedtime read-alouds, morning story times, letter sound exploration (SOUNS) and a home rich in word – read, written, spoken, sung.
Admittedly, it was nerve-wracking at times to trust that our first child would pick up just what he needed to when he needed it. And he started recognizing letter sounds on our outings – the S in safeway as we drove by, the O in the pattern on a railing. Next came spelling out small words phonetically and pretty much reading at four or five. Even though he could read, he wasn’t really interested in reading himself books even at age seven. Other kids were reading small chapter books. We continued to read to him and support his learning in a gentle manner. At nine years old, he developed an intense love for reading and jumped right in to chapter books, reading for an hour or more most mornings as he waited for the rest of us to wake up. He has read entire chapter books to his little brother on road trips, and eagerly awaits the arrival of new books from the library. The other day he said, “It’s funny how sometimes when you’re reading, you’re kind of just reading the words, but other times it’s like you’re right there in the story and part of it all.” Right now he’s reading about a book every day or two and working on writing down new words and looking them up in the dictionary.
Unfortunately, reading doesn’t just happen for everyone in such a smooth way. Sometimes it’s a bumpy and even turbulent ride, especially when they tire of hitting those bumps. This is the case for our now 13 year old who is on the autism spectrum. She can read and this past year has marked a huge leap in her reading skills, though she is still at a very low reading level. The struggle is finding very simple and non-distracting chapter-book like books that aren’t babyish for a teen. Even with the right book, it’s a struggle to get through our reading times, though the successes are increasing and leading to more enjoyable reading times together. I think the importance of reading is finally sinking in, as she comes to realize how it affects her ability to act out her passions. This kiddo loves to cook and bake. She loves to eat. And loves good food. I recently purchased a couple of recipe books for her and we’ve continued on with our cooking-baking-herbal program. Today we baked the delicious pumpkin loaf you’ll see below. I pretty much stepped aside while she read the recipe and went through the steps, only asking questions so she could double check her reading. We talked through how different the recipe could turn out if she had in fact put 2 cups instead of 2 teaspoons, used baking baking powder instead of baking soda, or put two ingredients where the recipe said “or” for example. She would be over the moon to be a chef and the experience of working through recipes is really illuminating this practical-life value of reading.
On top of that, it’s a great life-learning scenario for practical math and the importance of teaspoons versus cups, and knowing basic fractions. Today we ended up playing with measuring cups and cutting up an apple to explore fractions in the middle of our baking time. We’ve explored these things before, but these are the times they become more concrete and meaningful. In real life. Within a context. Within a context that really matters to the learner. Instead of groans, I got a kid who was jumping up and down at feeling so empowered to be who she is and follow her passion. It’s times like this when the incredible blessing that homeschooling is really hits me.
Our third home learner is just now consciously digging into reading. He is six years old and has picked up on quite a few letters through osmosis, but is requesting to learn the full alphabet and to read and write more readily. Having two older siblings who read to him, and who he sees dedicating time to working on the process has really helped him to recognize that it’s something he can put effort into when he is ready and he’ll see results. We’re excited to be walking a Waldorf path with him, introducing each letter through stories and illustrations, alongside the SOUNS letters we already have. He is learning the capitals and lowercase side by side. And he is over the moon to have now read the very first BOB book in the series we have had waiting in a basket for him for a while now.
I’m thankful for this multi-year lesson in trust and patience and am excited for the day when all of us will be curled up on the couch, each with our own book in hand, immersed in vastly different worlds while sitting right next to one another.
Chai Pumpkin Lattés
Rooibos chai tea
Steamed milk, maple syrup, pumpkin puree, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg
First try on both of these recipes and we loved them. A great after school snack and now the freezer s stocked with slices for later October days…
Gluten free + vegan recipe. Our 13 year old baker-cook made this batch, featured on the blue stand in the photo below!