Saturday, May 28, 2011

Once It Clicks

When feeling frustrated because my monkeys sometimes progress slowly, I remember what it was like a few years ago. We were in Massachusetts after Hurricane Katrina, and because of her dyslexia, Jojo at 10 could barely read 10 of the 50 most frequently written words. Even though we had tried 3 or 4 reading programs (I might go into that another day), she would forget what she learned within days or weeks of stopping. Meme at eight could not read at all -- not due to any problem with her, but because, between life's crises, I had been focusing all my efforts on Jojo.

It was difficult to admit that our life was not likely to settle down any time soon, and that moving all over, having babies, and two major hurricanes (we came back to Louisiana in time to get hit by Gustav) may be excuses other people will buy as to why we are woefully behind, but I needed to get over it and home-school despite what events were and are happening around us. I had to get determined that my child would read.

Once I figured out that the school system was not going to help (another long story), I researched the heck out of dyslexia. Then I spent 6 intensive months on Jojo's reading lessons – several exhausting hours every day. Then another 3 months of pushing her to read all of the time -- several books a week.  At first many of the books were below her age level for content, but she was starting to read at least.

Within a few months of turning 11, she was reading the fourth Harry Potter (after she read the first 3 in 3 weeks). I tested her reading level constantly, and within months of starting to read she was almost where she should be.  

In so many books about the act of learning to read, you see the same phrase over and over again. Suddenly something clicks, and the child will go from sounding out letters to reading in a short time. It’s almost like magic.  At some point I despaired that this magical event would ever occur for Jojo, but it had happened.

I'm still pushing her to read – 1 long or 2 short novels a week on top of the reading she does for pleasure. Her reading level is still being pushed to the limits.  Four years later, she can read anything. Her vocabulary has grown considerably. I now assign her books I read in college English classes, and she can not only read it but she understands the subtlety in it.

What I need to remember from that time period is that once she started reading, her schoolwork became easier for both of us. So much of our time was spent on learning to read and reading for her with the other subjects. Both for her and Meme, learning to read at that time was all consuming.

With the boys it will be the same thing. Once they break through that reading barrier, once that magical moment happens and it all clicks together, self-learning will become the norm. I will feel less horrible as a home-schooling mom and stop beating myself up over failures and delays, and go back to throwing book after book at them, just like I did with their sisters.  I look forward to those coming days with glee!

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