Learning to Read 1: The Goal

Teaching Mr Rockstar to read has been one of the biggest achievements of my life.  At times it didn’t seem like we would get there but now I can say after over 4 years of work the end is in sight!  He is reading (still a little behind for his grade level but he is reading!) and what is more he wants to read.  He loves books.  He is obsessed with books.  Along this crazy journey I have learned a lot of valuable lessons.  I kept thinking I should sit down and write a post on how we got to where we are today and I finally realized I just couldn’t do it in one post.  So today is the beginning of my literacy series, tips for teaching struggling readers.

The longer we have struggled the more apparent it has become to me that the first place to start with teaching a child to read is with the correct goal in mind.  You might think the goal is “To Teach My Kid to Read”.  But subconsciously I bet your goal is “To Teach my Kid to Read by Age 5 (or when you miss that Age 6 or Age 7…)”. 

At times along our journey I would start feeling hysterical and fearful and like a failure. When this would happen I would decide I just needed to be harder on Mr Rockstar and demand more work out of him.  This inevitably would just make us both miserable.  Quickly reading lessons would become the dreaded portion of the day.  Eventually I realized I was succumbing to the unstated goal that if I was a better mother or a better teacher he would be reading already.  I had missed my subconscious deadline.

As soon as I could see this unstated goal, I could recognize the folly of it.  The true goal we should have is to raise a reader.  Our goal is to have an avid reader at age 25.  To raise an adult who loves learning.  Who cares if they were reading well at age 5? or 6? or 7? or 8? etc as long as by the time they are grown up and leave my house they are reading.  

If I could keep this long term goal of raising a reader in focus then I could relax and realize that anything that causes us both to hate reading lessons together, even though it might be a victory for today, would long term turn Mr Rockstar away from wanting to read.  The last thing you want to create is a battle of the wills where if they are going to “win” control of a situation it is by NOT reading.

Future posts I will talk about how to keep reading lessons from taking a negative turn but for now remember slow and steady wins the race.  Keep the long term goal of raising a reader in focus and ….breathe.

2 thoughts on “Learning to Read 1: The Goal”

  1. Seriously as I struggled through yet ANOTHER night of reading homework that made us miserable, I wish I would have seen this first. I know it doesn’t happen overnight and certainly not after seeing her “read” her memorized sentences…As she told me she ‘didn’t even have to look at the words’ sigh.
    It’ll happen, it may not be as quickly as I expected but it’ll happen!

    1. Yes! It happens in their timing. We just have to keep being patient and helping them until it clicks. And in the mean time keep reading as a special fun thing so they want to achieve it! Keep it up! I am sure you will be there in no time with her 😉

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