Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Home education and reading

I looked through Amazon this week with Harry to order some new reading books for him and he was delighted to find some Justice League superhero ones, from the I Can Read series. The ability to choose resources your child is enthusiastic about is a great benefit of home education - I have been upstairs tonight after bedtime and Harry had his lamp on reading one of these new books in bed himself - I have never seen him do this before! 

Flexibility is an advantage in terms of type of resources and time. We don't have set times or days to complete reading targets and Harry isn't under pressure to meet arbitrary targets or keep pace with others - he can work at his own pace free of this pressure. Sometimes Harry reads three or four times a day and sometimes not at all. Sometimes he makes huge leaps forward in a short space of time and sometimes he stays at the same level for several months - either way he is praised for trying and generally enjoys the reading. 

There have been times when we haven't used our reading scheme books for a few months as his confidence has taken a knock, but we have played literacy games instead, so he has still been learning and progressing. This takes quite a lot of trust and I do sometimes start to panic that he may start to fall behind, but he has always proved that this is not the case and re-started stronger.

We have mixed and matched reading books, using Oxford Reading Tree, I Love Reading (non-fiction series) and normal books too. Harry often shares the reading of Mr Men books with me, which is great as they contain some super words. He has also read sections of the Roald Dahl books we have read. As well as Harry reading, we also read to him every day and he listens to lots of audio books.

Games have played a big part in Harry's literacy and he really enjoys them. I have used several ideas from this book, which I love, including pyramid reading and nonsense stars. We still play these and he is always enthusiastic about them.

We use post it notes on the wall - words for Harry and letters for Peter - which they remove once they have read each note. They love jumping up to get them and throwing the notes in the air! 

We play stepping stones, where I write a word or sound on A4 sized pieces of paper and create a path of stepping stones from living room to kitchen - they cannot move to the next one until they have read the stone and there is sometimes a prize waiting at the end of the path. This can be used from learning single letters right up to difficult sight words and is very quick to prepare - you just need some paper and ideas of words to include. I have sometimes used words from the Dolch word list, words from books we have recently read, colour words or number words.

Harry has definitely had to work at learning to read (he has not been a child who has naturally picked it up and started reading chapter books at age 5 - I know a couple of these, both home educated and not). The important process of learning to read, although sometimes challenging, has been enjoyable and fits in naturally to our life. I hope that Harry becomes more confident reading himself this year through all the methods mentioned above.

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