The Reading Corner-Am I Doing Enough?


One of the most frequent questions I get from parents concerning homeschooling  is “Am I doing enough?”  Homeschool parents live with this nagging doubt that they should do more.  We compare our homeschool to a family we heard about where all the children began college at age 15 and feel something is wrong if our child can’t get it together to turn in their work for the day.  And pity the parents with a late bloomer!  They feel there is no hope and they have miserably failed their child.  Children learn to read somewhere between the ages of 4 and 9 or 10 so don’t stress if your child is 7 or 8 and is still not reading.  Keep plowing away and they will read.  If he/she is not reading after 10 years of age, I would look at getting some type of educational evaluation (if you haven’t done it sooner).

So what does that mean for parents.  For the parent with above average students, let them take the initiative in their education.  Give them guidance, make sure they are following some type of scope and sequence, hold them accountable and let them go!  Let them explore and learn.  You will be amazed at how much  they learn.  When I homeschooled, I used to do unit studies and I would let the kids take turns choosing the particular unit study.  Then I would check out every library book I could find on the subject and off we would go.  We would do some experiments or projects depending on what the topic of study was.  I also threw in a couple of studies that I thought they needed for a well rounded education. I did not do a particular number of studies per year.  We simply studied something until I felt we were finished.  Even in high school, there are so many different ways to take a course,  just make sure your student is well rounded, works in a timely manner and doesn’t only study robots or the civil war!

The average child can take initiative with their education also.  Don’t sell them short.  Hold them accountable  for completing their work in a timely manner and let them go.  My kids were not above average in Math so we did 3-5 lessons per week, depending on our outside activities that week and difficulty of the particular skill being taught, And when we hit a new, difficult skill, we might spend 2 or even 3 days on that particular skill.  However, if my kids had wanted to do more, I would not have stopped them from doing 8 or 10 lessons per week.

If you have a child who is having difficulty with a subject, take your time.  Rome wasn’t built in a day and you may have to go slow.  Find a method that works for him/her and don’t deviate.  Keep your eyes on the end result and off of everyone else.  Don’t compare your child with any others, including their siblings.  Remember children are individuals and each child learns at his/her own pace.  Let them be independent in the areas they excel in and spend your time plowing through the things they find more challenging.  It might be that your child is a fantastic musician or is extremely mechanically inclined.

One of the things I had my kids do every day was read.  I read to them as well as had them read independently.  The best way to learn to read is to simply read.  We read both classics and pop fiction with an emphasis on classics.  I did not have a standard number of books we had to read per month/semester/school year.

My daughter read constantly, to the point where I couldn’t keep up with her.

My son, on the other hand read the minimum required.  I did have to give him goals and set time limits or he would have never read.

If you have a reluctant reader, hang in there, find a genre(s) that they enjoy and set goals for them. Sometimes a reluctant readers will enjoy non-fiction books over fiction. Books on tape are a great way to expose your reluctant reader to the classics or genres they don’t enjoy.  If you are desperate, take a week off and let them read short stories or comic books.  This may sound crazy but sometimes we work our kids so hard that they need a break.  Don’t we all!!!

At this time of year, homeschool moms begin to question how well they are doing.  Rest assured that you are doing better than you imagine.  Remember education is a marathon and not a sprint and kids develop at different rates.  Blessings to you and your family as you journey through the wonderful adventure of homeschooling.

If you have particular questions about pacing your homeschool, please ask.  I would love to hear from you.


About pcobb0

I am a wife and mother to two wonderful adult children who I had the privilege of homeschooling from their pre-school through high school years. While homeschooling, I served in various leadership positions in local homeschool support groups including president. I also served as the Education Coordinator and Director of ENAACT Family Academy, a homeschool co-op in New Braunfels, Tx .Prior to homeschooling, I spent 11 years teaching elementary school aged children in both public and private schools. During my time teaching in the public school system, I earned a Master's Degree in Reading Education as well as a Reading Specialist certification. My hobbies include reading and cooking and I plan to take up scrapbooking and maybe photography in the near future. I am now an empty nester discovering what God has in store for me during this next season of life.
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5 Responses to The Reading Corner-Am I Doing Enough?

  1. Sarah Cates says:

    Interesting post, and I completely agree with many of your points. I was just thinking recently about how many parents stress out about their child’s potty training, first words, first teeth, etc. Is there anything to really worry about? Come on, how many diaper-sporting teenagers do you know that don’t talk or have teeth? But then, as homeschool moms we many times succumb to the same type of worries. Don’t worry new homeschooling moms! Your kids will catch on. Additionally, not enough can be said about reading. So many things are picked up this way. I can’t count how many times we’ve gone to learn something in history or science and my child informs me that he already knows of it from some other book he’s read. Also, I’ve noticed that so many grammar and writing skills are picked up this way that we have been able to skip over much formal training in this area. When kids read and hear books read often, they just seem to “know” what things should sound like, and how sentences should be formed and organized. Great thoughts, thanks!

    • pcobb0 says:

      When I began homeschooling, I was one of those moms who fretted and worried about how much we were doing. Before I had children I was a public school teacher and was afraid that I was ruining my children. It took me several years to relax and know that my kids would thrive in the world. To God’s glory, my oldest graduated as an English major with honors from a public university.

      I like what you said about the “diaper-sporting teenagers”. So true!

      Thanks for stopping by.

  2. Rebeca Jones says:

    This is fantastic, Pat! Thanks for the sound, practical advice. Some of it is what I already preach to my co-op moms as I had to learn much of this the hard way.

    My son has been diagnosed with a Language Based Learning Disability. He reads at about a grade lower (He is 9th grade, 15 yr. old, tested at the end of last year at an early 8th grade level.) but he cannot spell (or organize his thoughts on paper) to save his life! I struggle with balance: do I continue to hammer language arts that don’t stick, or should I focus more on ways to work around his issues? It is a hard call to make sometimes.

    Do you have any recommendations for kids with true disabilities/difficulties?

    • pcobb0 says:

      I would say keep plugging away, make accommodations such as using a dictionary/spell check and teach him coping skills. Go as far as you can without frustrating him. Make sure he has good keyboarding skills. Sometimes it is easier to write using the computer. Find something he’s good so that he doesn’t feel inferior.

      I know a young man whose mother was told he would never read and he is a Sophmore in college. His mom brought him home and began working with him. She still helps him with his assignments and either reads the textbook to him or he uses books on tape where applicable. He has a machine (forgot the name of it) that records and transcribes class notes, is given special accommodations for timed tests, and is able to get his papers transcribed. They were able to get special accommodations because she had a formal evaluation done on him. Being diagnosed with a learning disability also helped them with financial aide.

      Good luck to you as you approach the end of your son’s academic homeschooling. God has a plan for him and he will do above and beyond your wildest dreams!

      • Rebeca Jones says:

        Thank you! It sounds like, for the most part, I’m on the right track then. I try very hard to focus on his strengths, since I assume God gave them to him for a purpose. 🙂 It is good to know that his issues could be beneficial for financial aide, too. I had not heard anything about that. Again, thanks for your insight. It is hard to be objective when I am so out of my depth. Blessings to you–

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