I have already wrote a post on what reading looks like in our home so some of this may be repetitive.
When first making the transition into radical unschooling it can be hard wrapping your brain around how children will learn certain things. Trust is a word you will hear a lot and if you have not taken the steps to properly deschool *yourself* you may miss the beauty of seeing a child learn these “things” all on their own.
I can understand the confusion (and fears) some have of not believing a child will *want* to learn to read, write, do math, chores, and any other thing you could throw in there as having been there myself. Just like both of my girls learned to talk and walk when the time was right for them, children*will* learn to read and write too.
I hear and see those new on this path struggling with buying computer games or cute little curriculum packages that promise your children great results but you do not NEED any of this stuff for a child to learn. They will learn naturally by doing the things that interest them the most.
So for the sake of this post, what *is* reading?
Many people, especially in the homeschooling world, get caught up in the idea that reading means books. However that is not *just* what reading means. I love how Sandra Dodd explains the process of when her children first learned to “read”. She explains that if a child was not able to read a note that she had left on the refrigerator then they were NOT readers. Being able to recite Green Eggs and Ham does not mean a child can read.
Out of our 3 children (22, 11, & 6) 2 of them are “readers”. One is still making connections to the written word but is not a reader. Little Sis *knows* lots and lots of words but still struggles with some too. Instead of spending TONS of money on a reading program, because you can *not* make a child read before they are ready(you can not *make* a child learn anything if they are not interested. Regurgitating information for a test is not *real* learning), I bought a CD of all the funny Letter People songs($10.00), watched episodes of The Letter People on YouTube with her(free), invested in some refrigerator magnets($5.00) that the girls like to use to leave messages with, we play games with her, follow what interests her and help facilitate more things she might like.
All that money I saved from buying curriculum materials and supplies I am able to spend on the things she loves like virtual world memberships (like Wizard 101, Animal Jam) , video games, card games, magazines, puzzle books and Elephant and Piggie books.
I facilitate the love of reading by snuggling in bed when she wants to read a story and giving her my time to help answer her questions. Oh and I DON”T place negative judgement on her interests. (We are living in the 21st century we need to get past the idea books are the *only* way to enjoy a great story! Have you followed the storylines of any video games lately? Man how far they’ve come since Pac-Man.)
When she asks how to spell a word I don’t say “sound it out”, or “look it up” or spell it by stretching out each letter sound, “Pen, Pah Eh NNN” , how annoying that would be if someone did this to me every time I asked how to spell a word, we spell it for her. After a few times she has it down. When she needs help reading something on one of her games, we help read it for her. After a few times she figures it out. When she needed help on Animal Jam talking with the other kids or spelling out messages, we took the time to sit by her side and helped with what she needed.
The more she does what she loves, the more she *wants* to read, write, and spell all on her own. The more supportive, peaceful, and loving her environment is the more she learns. This goes for *all* of us and for all “subjects”!
Children *love* to learn. The problem comes when *we* start getting ideas in our mind of *how* that learning should look. We begin listening to so-called “experts” instead of listening and watching our children.
I have yet to meet anyone who is exactly like me, why would I assume my girls would be?