Learning to Read with Confidence
September 4, 2019
In This Issue:
Mercy Every Minute  
Your Reader Is Unique

Most parents start worrying if their children are not reading by 7 or 8 years old, especially new homeschoolers if they see other young children reading and their child is not. 

Maybe it’s developmentally too early (sometimes 6 is too young, especially if it’s a boy), or visually, physically, or mentally hard for them to read. Perhaps they have a learning block, dyslexia, or are just struggling with too much, too soon. Good readers are not necessarily early readers . . . and, early readers don’t always grow up to love reading.

God designs each individual and gives them talents for His purposes. We are all wired differently for various purposes, which reminds us that the uniqueness of each child is really the revelation of God’s fingerprints on their lives. 

Though we had eight unique readers, some reading as early as 4 years old and some as late as 11, we did these things for all of them: 
  • A good foundation in phonics. 
  • Made reading a strong priority—even over workbooks.
  • Linked reading to writing.
  • Good copywork which connects the two above.
  • Good literature—every day.

Creating confidence in new readers is like creating confidence in new homeschoolers. I encourage both that they can do this, that they were created for this, and that the LORD is their Helper! 

My lifelong confidence in God comes from this: whenever I am feeling weak, I cry out for help from the Lord. I look UP at Who He is and see He is able and I move forward in faith. When I look BACK, I see His faithful hand over those things I worried about. I gain confidence by trusting the Lord and knowing He is able to do what I cannot do. 

How about those readers? You can encourage them that they can overcome any struggle and become confident readers. Don’t be frustrated; be encouraging. Pray together. Baby steps, consistent steps, a little progress today, and before you know it, one day they will be confident readers in due time. 

It’s most important to develop a love for reading God’s Word. When each of my children mastered the basics of reading and could read Genesis 1:1, they received their own large print Bible. We all read the Bible every day (either separately or together) so that we will learn to fear the Lord. 

I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well” (Psalm 139:14).


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The Skills Needed for Reading

Hearing the Sounds in Words
Before children can learn to read, they need good phonological awareness. They need to be able to hear that a word is made up of sounds. If they can’t hear that “goat” contains three sounds g-oa-t, they’ll never be able to blend those three sounds into a word. An early symptom of poor phonological awareness is your child having difficulty with words that rhyme.

Seeing the Letters Clearly
They also need to be able to focus both eyes on the same letter and track across the page. If your children make erratic eye movements, they will probably reverse letters or skip words and lines when reading.

When children who make erratic eye movements read, each eye looks at a different letter. This may make words look blurry or letters appear to move as the brain alternates between images.

Comprehension is also difficult. Their brain is overloaded, trying to decipher what is seen. There’s very little processing power left to remember or understand it.

Using Phonics to Decode Words
Once your children have good phonological awareness and good eye control, they will then be able to read using a structured, multi-sensory phonics reading program.

Understanding What They’ve Read
The last skill in reading is vocabulary. Expose children to wide vocabulary and avoid the temptation to simplify speech. Children will struggle to read unfamiliar words; so the more words they know, the better.

How to Help if Your Children Are Struggling to Read
If your children are struggling to read, then there’s lots you can do to help. Even if you suspect dyslexia or have a formal diagnosis, this does not mean your children will always struggle to read.

Fluency Builder teaches your child how to hear sounds in words. It helps them hear the difference between the ‘a’ in cat and the ‘a’ in baby .

Engaging Eyes teaches your child to focus both eyes on the same letter and track across the page. This improves reading speed, comprehension, and accuracy.

Children make, on average, twelve months progress after just three months of playing.

Dyslexia Gold’s unique approach reduces eye movements and improves phonological awareness. The fun games are designed to be quick, taking only ten minutes a day.

Dyslexia Gold’s programs work for even the weakest reader. Find out about the science behind the programs and get a 20% discount.

Confidence and Practice Are Key!

Confidence is an inner ease in which a person does something. It's picking up a tool and knowing how to use it. It's jumping on a bike and zooming down the trail. For me, it's mounting a platform and speaking to a large crowd of people.

To you that might sound scary, and people ask me all the time, "Do you get nervous when you go on stage to speak to one thousand people?" I know they're imagining doing what I'm about to do, and it scares them to death, but I always answer, "Do you get nervous when you go to your job?"

Of course the answer is, "No." They've done it so many times, and they're confident in their abilities. That's the way it is with everyone and the way it is with reading.

Everyone starts out trying to sound out words and string them together in sentences and paragraphs. Some kids get it right away; others have to plug at it for years.

It's our job as parents to give them a safe training ground to learn to read, one where they can go at their own pace without us barking corrections every time they make a mistake; and one where we smile a whole bunch and cheer them on as they make progress.

But here's the truth: sooner or later, they're going to get it. It may not be as early as the kid next door or as early as you'd like, but when they're all grown up, they'll read because they've done it so many times.

Your job is to chill, plug away, and smile.

Be real,
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The Reading Lifestyle
Sometimes helping our kids learn to read can seem like a chore. It's not, really.

Reading is a lifestyle, and we moms and dads communicate lifestyle to our kids every day.

As parents, we help our kiddos make lifestyle choices every time we take a break from seat work and pull out their little bikes and helmets. We tell them what our lifestyle is every time we set out lunch. We can help our kids develop a reading lifestyle, too!

Here are a few things you can do to help your children love to read:

Keep a reading log. It’s a fun way for competitive kids to keep track! Have in-home reading days with popcorn, jammies, and hot-from-the-oven cookies. Find books your kids enjoy. For some kids, that might include almanacs and science books. Other kids may love horse stories. Don’t be afraid to walk away from a book if no one likes it.

Schedule free-read times, early in the morning or late in the afternoon, while they are still sleepy, or after they have already played actively. Watch that TV time. Kids will rarely turn off the TV in favor of reading (or living life, for that matter), but will often seek a book if they have lots of free time. Allow kids to have unscheduled time in their day. Just like us, kids aren’t going to read if they have no time.

Nothing beats a restless child with a shelf full of great books. Our youngest started reading The Chronicles of Narnia in Kindergarten—just because they were available. Go on book hunts together. Used bookstores and garage sales can be fun! Many of our books were $.10 to $.50 each. The kids love picking out their own books. Variety is important. Kids should have access to non-fiction, novels, classic literature, historical fiction, and narrative biographies.

I love reading aloud to my kids. I like to choose read-alouds that allow me to practice my melodramatic voices and accents! Reading aloud to your kids will help them develop a love of reading without all of the work. Read alouds are a great bonding activity. While I still read the Bible with my kids (and now they read it themselves as well), I remember fondly the hours we spent reading together. I know they do, too! Reading aloud allows your kids to enjoy books that tell a great story but are far beyond their own ability to read.

The more your kids encounter books, the more comfortable they'll feel reading, and the more they'll want to read! Looking for a book log that has it all? Check out My Book Log.

Danika Cooley is an award-winning  children's author , and the developer of the popular Bible Road Trip™ curriculum. Grab your free Sample Pack of the REVISED EDITION  here .
What can you get for thirty-three cents a day? That won’t even buy a cup of coffee, but it is all you need to give your children a full education at home! SchoolhouseTeachers.com offers more than four hundred online, self-paced courses covering Pre-K to twelfth grade. One membership covers a family, with no limit on the number of students or courses. During the Fall LAST CHANCE Sale (9/1/19 – 10/10/19), you can join for quarterly payments of $29.95 (code LASTCHANCE). That is 25% off the regular price, and works out to about $10/month, or 33¢/day! The website will continue to grow with new courses, videos, and teaching resources, but your cost will NOT grow for as long as your membership stays active. (Membership includes two digital planners and a subscription to The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine.)

All Readers Are Not the Same

Not all 5 year olds are ready to read; so learning to read with confidence includes making sure that your child’s brain and eyes are ready. Reading age has nothing to do with intelligence but a lot to do with learning style, pre-reading skills, emotional response, and other life situations. By ages 9-10, early readers and late readers level out, unless there is a learning difficulty such as dyslexia weighing into the mix. 

Visual learners are often early readers because they process new information through their eyes. Auditory learners will know the sounds before matching a written letter to the sound (Boat starts with B). Your kinesthetic child will need cards, games, and movement to learn the letters. 

All readers need pre-reading skills such as knowing right from left, being able to move visually across the midpoint of the brain (eye-tracking), being able to follow three or four instructions consecutively, cross-patterning (crawling or marching around with opposite hands touching the knees), and being able to sit and listen to someone else read for a few minutes. 

Vocabulary plays into reading skills, as well. The best way to build your child’s vocabulary is to read out loud to them a lot about many different subjects. Learning the alphabet and matching upper and lowercase letters will be the first reading step. Knowing the sounds of the letters comes next. Being able to chain letters together is reading. Make sure that your child is seeing the word or sentence as you read to them or as they begin to read by having them describe the picture in their brain to you.

Your child must also be emotionally ready to receive instruction, be able to sit and concentrate for short lengths of time, and be free to share their thoughts about what they are reading. Playing board games, learning to win and lose gracefully, to take turns, to wait for something that they want, and to have words to help them express their emotions will prepare a child to read.

A new baby, a move, an adoption, a divorce, etc. may require your putting reading on the back burner for a while. Wait until you can calmly and regularly sit down with your child to practice reading. Teach one skill at a time and give him/her time to learn each new sound, letter, or letter grouping before moving on, and your child will become a confident reader. 

Dara Halydier is an author, speaker, and mom of five grown boys! She homeschooled for twenty-one wonderful years and is now encouraging other homeschooling families. She is the executive director of Abiding Truth Ministry and the author of the Practical Proverbs series and other books. Dara has learned life’s lessons the hard way—experience! The lessons she shares come from truths that she has learned from dealing with chronic pain, having moved thirty-three times, having four boys with learning disabilities, and having overcome a past of abuse to proclaim God’s grace, forgiveness, and freedom. Find out more at  www.abidingtruthministry.com .
Are you trying to figure out how to assign separate classes to each of your students within  SchoolhouseTeachers.com ? Watch this  tutorial  to learn how to use the great Bookmark feature to organize course assignments!

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You know that reading is the building block of academic success. Did you know that your membership to SchoolhouseTeachers.com includes a Literacy Center with tons of resources and 101 simple steps to help you teach your child to read? There are downloadable resources and books, tips and ideas, online books that read aloud to your children, and more. It’s designed to help your children have a solid foundation in reading and includes activities for helping older elementary students sharpen their reading comprehension skills. You can help your child learn to read and comprehend better with these easy-to-use tools and resources. 

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