it’s UN-official {homeschool diaries}

this post is part of a series that chronicles my experience into the world of being sterling’s 1st (& mind you, apprehensive & fearful) teacher. my hope is that this series will be both helpful & encouraging.

homeschool diaries 1x1

i’m “unofficially” homeschooling sterling… & have been for about a year.

what does this mean?

first of all it means that i began “homeschooling” when sterling wasn’t yet five, or the age acceptable to enroll him in a public school. typically the rule is age five by september 1st.

it also means that i’ve made it a point to set aside a portion of my day, 3-5 days a week – usually during liberty’s nap –to sit down with sterling & following his interests, engage him & lead him in learning.

in the beginning it was a rough go… i had a perfectly eager student, but i had no idea where or how to begin. i rummaged through the internet piece milling tidbits together, but had no real plan of attack.

since sterling was naturally interested in all things reading & since i have a mother-in-love who’s super willing to supply my needs & wants i happened to have How to Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons already on my shelf. truth be told, upon receiving it, though it was on my wish list for some appointed time in the distant future, i did not expect to put it to use for years!

however, since i had it at my fingertips (& really no other resources!) i decided to give it a try.

& here’s the disclaimer: sterling was ready. i wasn’t sure if i was. i was simply following his interests, his lead… i wholeheartedly believe that toddlerhood or even the preschool years is not the time to push “school” on our children. & lest we forget: every child, every circumstance, & the natural interests of children vary widely. so be forewarned: use extreme caution when beginning your child’s educational career (remember: this is a career of sorts, a lifelong endeavor!) prior to the recommended age/maturity level.

for us, 100 Easy Lessons was right on target. it met him where he was. it held his interests. it jelled with his learning style. & just as important, it was easy enough for me to follow & teach.

within a short period of time sterling was reading! i was thrilled. he was excited.

{& here’s a tip: the method outlined in 100 Easy Lessons lined up with his learning style.}

for the most part each reading lesson was met with joy as we sat at his table together… working hard to decipher the story (after all, this is the point of reading: comprehension… & the hardest part by far) & enjoying the pictures at the end – which i hid by a sheet of paper until the story was read through roughly once (by sterling), then read by me, & lastly read “the fast way” by sterling. the picture was the reward.

though there were a couple of days in which i had to help sterling “push through”, 98% of the desire to read was driven by him.

& this i believe is the key. he was ready. he wanted it. i was simply his guide, his encourager & motivator on the hard days.

let me say, this book is not the magic bullet. it neither fosters interest in an uninterested child or makes a child learn to read or produces comprehension in a young one who does not yet have the attention span or stamina to sit for 30+ minutes. so don’t look at this review/recommendation as a quick & easy road to early reading.

the reality is, i’ve heard lots of mixed reviews about this form of teaching literacy – from both practitioners & professionals. & after completing the book once & then again (the 2nd time for review & to check his increased mastery of comprehension) i’ve run into a snag myself…

this particular book doesn’t teach phonics.

in short, phonics are essential to deciphering words & ultimately reading words they don’t know by sight.

so even though sterling’s been able to read (& even comprehend) several books we’ve since backed up the learning process a bit & begun learning, practicing, & reviewing the rules of phonics.

in fact, phonics are so crucial to the learning process that i was recently told by an educational consultant that they would never recommend this book as a tool for early readers as they felt that learning phonics is the primary tool students should use to learn to read.

i can completely understand their concerns.

however, in our case, & with our limited access to resources, i truly believe that this book met sterling (& me!) where we were. it met his desire to learn to read & my need for help in getting him started. & for him, it kept his attention & interests so that learning wasn’t drudgery, but fun.

with that said, if you’d like to know more about how to teach your child to read using the building blocks of words: phonics, Explode the Code is a popular tool for getting them started well. recently i also heard raving reviews about Go Phonics & an oldie, but goodie: Sing, Spell, Read & Write.


2 thoughts on “it’s UN-official {homeschool diaries}

  1. Love reading your diary. I’m totally learning as I go along and am thankful for my patient student(s). We are using sing, spell, read and write. Abigail taught herself to read and is reading grade three books with ease, so now we’re just going through all the phonics rules to fill in the gaps. Lots of fun, and tons of work, this teaching our kids thing. Whew! Press on, sister!

    Sent from my iPad


  2. Loved the 100 Lessons as well. I know that in the states some of the consultants stress the phonics (which are important) but I have also found (with my two) that the phonics are coming naturally. Maybe it has to do with the way that the 100 Lessons presents it. Also our spelling program (All About Spelling) naturally builds in the phonics component, something I was not aware of when I chose the spelling, but have been very pleased with! I was scared when I went to a conference after Nathan had been reading for a year and they said that the 100 Lessons was not sufficient in and of itself for phonics, but I am not sure that that is entirely true, but I am not an expert either. 🙂 Way to go Sterling! Jennifer you are doing a great job! This whole homeschooling thing is such a journey just as motherhood is, up and downs, highs and lows….trusting and leaning, falling and getting up again. So thankful that Father is in control of even the details of education. Blessings! Sarah

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