My husband discovered a show on You Tube called Scientific Tuesday.  One evening the boys did a variety of experiments.  They did this one http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hPFwDaR1g70 and these ones http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nfii6r-ul-c

I watched and was very concerned that somebody might get hurt.  See my husband is just a boy at heart and some years ago he made a potato gun and also singed his eye brows and eye leashes as he peered down the barrel wondering why the thing had not gone off.  Fortunately he has extremely “lush” brows and eyelashes – though they have not grown in fully they are average length now.  The last set of experiments did involved chemicals and fire so I was on guard.  The milk one was not a problem.

All of the experiments turned out okay and I was excited that my husband was playing the “mad scientist” with his boys.  My oldest is already a science nut and watches Daily Planet every night but the younger one claims that he is not into that same stuff.  Well he sure was interested in this and it got him thinking when we called it “science”!  The twins will love it or not – for now I do not know.

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As I watched the boys doing science, getting excited and wanting more I had to reflect once again on my choice (this year) to follow the curriculum.  I was trying to cheer the boys on while in the back of my head I was thinking, “But we need to cover electricity, and building and the seasons.  We do not have time for spontaneous science.  We have to subjects that need to be covered or else…….or else what?”  In that moment I was reminded of my truth in this homeschooling path.  Plain and simple – we are spontaneous & interesting people and if let alone our children will be too.  We will cover science as it presents itself all around us and it will always be exciting and it will always be fun because we stumbled upon it rather than worked it in.

I guess it really is a life philosophy and I believe that life – as much as we do work hard, should be joyful.  Our learning and life paths including the work will be fun as long as we are on OUR right path.  I am not saying that we do not need to work hard along the way and perhaps do things we do not want to get where we are going but life does not have to be a long, hard, and boring road (which is how I remember school).  I choose to opt out of the long, hard, boring part even if it means electricity gets covered in bits and pieces over the course of the years instead as one solid subject to “cover” that chosen year.  Why not explore instead of “cover”?

Oh and for goodness sakes why all of the worksheets? Did you know that most worksheets in school are to prove comprehension and understanding – and that is all they are for.?  Actually sorry they are also used to keep kids busy.  But as for the proving comprehension can you imagine if every time somebody explained something to you it was required that you had to do a worksheet to prove your comprehension?  Not only that but the other party would grade your comprehension?

Now I did buy an electrical circuit experiment kit and my son has done every experiment in it but I did this because I did make a promise to present these subjects.  As it were this way I have presented is not how the school would have wanted me to present it.  It is the way my son has enjoyed it but that is not the priority – the priority is the reporting.

Remember to let learning be fun.  If you have options and it suits your child OPT out and follow their passions.  As adults we will tell them “do what you love”.  Many adults go to therapy to figure that one out.   Allow them the time to be who they are and work to encourage the interests and the aptitudes.  Let the learning flow and be spontaneous if you can and if you dare!

I honestly believe it is the kids who are pushed in school and labeled early on that end up with the illiteracy for life.  I believe it is the focus on our child’s perceived lack that causes the self-esteem issues that reduce receptiveness to learning.  That about summarizes this post but if you would like to read the long version please read on.

I am not one of those homeschoolering moms that can boast about my high academic students.  You know the ones – they make homeschooling okay to nay sayers and they are easily able to smile and marvel at how naturally their children learned to read – and usually early.

As I say – that is not us.  I have boys in the truest of form and the oldest two are late readers.  In that late reading world is much fear and questioning.  It is easy to get down and make rash decisions about the results of your choice to home school.  It is easy to doubt yourself as a teacher and as a parent.  It takes a leap of faith to trust your judgment and allow the learning to happen.

So I am here to say – it works, they will read in their own time and they will succeed in life (including literacy) as long as they believe in themselves.  Do not stress and do not worry.  Please do not discourage nor label them – unless you have other concerns.  They will learn to read and it can be as natural as learning to talk  – I am a witness.  Look at these pictures of my now reading 10-year-old – he loves his books and so much that these truly are not posed shots.

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I am going to share my story but first I want to encourage you to read about other late readers.  Google “late readers” and so many articles will come up.  Here is one http://www.leapingfromthebox.com/art/kmg/learningtoread.html.  As well educate yourself on boys and how they learn – they are often the late readers.  Above all else trust your dear child.  Learning does not have to be forced.  I honestly believe it is the kids who are pushed in school and labeled early on that end up with the illiteracy for life.  It’s the focus on their perceived lack that causes the self-esteem issues that reduce receptiveness to learning.

Paul always loved books and he still does.  He spent hours and hours looking at books although I am not sure that he spent very much time looking at the words.  Whenever we got into letter sounds and reading he was just bored and instantly resistant.  He was busy and he wanted to get going.  He had things to do and fun to have.  He had lots of energy.  So I let it go with the knowing that he loved books and eventually he would want to read them.

So I did not let it go entirely and I can guess that if I had pushed or presented it in a more fun, and creative way perhaps he would have been more on par with his “grade level” earlier.  Reality was that our household was a busy one in those early years and we just did not feel it was a big deal.  I had researched enough to understand that boys tend to need more time and certainly more time to let out the energy.  That being said bit by bit – when Paul was receptive we started looking at words and sounds.  We would do this in very short bursts and he would show interest for only a couple of days.  The thing is he would surprise me in that he would read bigger  and bigger words and more of them every time we revisited.

Our school facilitator was satisfied with the progress year to year but mildly concerned with the “level”.  Tactfully and respectfully she asked me if I thought a possible learning disability was worth investigating.  I confidently responded “absolutely not”.  I knew Paul was capable of learning to read and I knew that he was going to read and I knew that he was going to ALWAYS love books.  I did not want to destroy that love by the process of pushing it on him.  I was also genuinely not concerned and absolutely did not want to label him. It again came down to trust and fortunately she trusted me and so we carried on.

At the beginning of this year Paul was reading “below” his grade level.  This is evaluated by him reading a short story out loud chosen by the teacher.  On the test she said he could not read some of the words but could also read some of the higher level words.  Well that was confusing.  I think that she will be relatively shocked and pleasantly surprised at the result of another 9 months gone by.

Now I am not sure his actual grade level but somehow without any push or extra work he is reading chapter books that are filled with hard words.  He now reads his favorites science books, the “Bones” series and he can pretty much read most words I put before him (I habitually do this spot test when uncertainty sets in).  My suspicion is that he will be a life long learner and he will read above his grade level within the next year.  Whatever that means?  Though I will let you all know.  Naturally he was not ready and he was not interested.  Fortunately I home school and so he was not pressured.  I am saddened to think about all the boys going through our system now.

In summary Paul was not all that interested in reading untill the age of 10.  Prior to that he was exposed to basics but he was resistant and very bored – he could read but mostly chose not to.  I let him alone while he looked endlessly at his favorite books.  In school he would have been labeled.  I allowed him to be himself and learn at his own pace.  The first thing he really got into reading independently was his Mr. Noggin Space cards – “What element gives the sand on the surface of Mars its red color: copper, magnesium, or zinc?” Not easy/leveled reading – he did not enjoy Dick and Jane.  Who would?  If I ask him to read pages out of his favourite series “Percy Jackson” he can read with ease though he is not yet interested to sit down with that.  As I mentioned earlier he specifically reads his science books and otherwise really enjoyed all of the “Bones” books – he read all 9 in two days.

When I searched for other late reading articles I came across this http://www.sciencealert.com.au/news/20100401-20448.html  I think the ages they chose are “safe” ages and I do believe that no gap would show in readers that start at 10, 12 and 14.  I say this based on examples of other late readers including entire countries such as Denmark that delay the teaching of reading. If you know anything about Denmark they have a highly educated population.  I also notice that school age kids start to get really bored and socially pressured by this age and while this is going on the homeschooled tend to catch up and surpass.  Obviously not all but generally speaking.

Have faith in your little learners and please share your late reader stories.  It is sort of like magic and hard to explain how it happens but I think it is important for parent of late readers to have some support and examples.  I had so many so hopefully I am just adding another in.

Happy learning – learning ought to be fun.