Reading to learn…

charley and rapefield 005  Yum! Charley’s in the kitchen making something delicious. I can hear the sounds of cake mixing and pots clanging and I may need to go see if there’s something I can sample.

“What you making?” I ask, test finger at the ready.

“Lemon drizzle cake. Get off – your hands are filthy”. I seem to remember a time when our roles were the other way round.

“How do you know how to do that?” I asked, knowing it wasn’t from her mother whose attempts at flapjacks could build sheds.

“Off the Internet,” she said walking back over to the Ipad propped among the debris of egg shells and splodges.

I glanced at it. The writing was tiny and the instructions looked complicated.

“That looks complicated,” I said.

“You just have to read and follow the instructions.” She clanked the oven shut. There’s telling me!

“How long till I get to eat it?”

“An hour – Miss Impatient!”

Yep – definitely role reversal!

But the thing I wanted to tell you is that this is a child who I thought would never read at all, let alone read off the Net and follow instructions. It wasn’t till she was thirteen that she managed a whole book and that was about the only one she did manage through the whole of her education.

She’s dyslexic, would rather have been making mud pies anyway and reading was extremely boring, laborious and painful. (You can read about her exploits in ‘A Funny Kind Of Education’).

We didn’t push it. Pushing it just made her withdraw and reading a terrible fight. I bit my fingers, practised patience and backed off as much as I could. This way she retained her pleasure in learning, part of which was the skill of reading. She read small relevant chunks. She used the computer all the time for learning and gaming. She read all sorts of snippets; learning to read doesn’t always mean reading books. Learning to decipher print in all its forms is the main thing – even if they develop their own strategies for doing so. She was supported and encouraged.

It must have worked. She went onto college and Uni.

But I just wanted to reassure you if you’re going through the same anxiety with your child that it doesn’t matter when they read. What matters is they are not put off.

Thankfully home educating gave her the time and opportunity to learn in ways that didn’t put her off. I’m not sure that this would have been the case in school.

School is not the only way to education. And school reading schemes are not the only way for a child to learn to read. For those who don’t take to reading easily we need to find approaches that suit their needs and which keeps their confidence – and pleasure – however long it takes. For it is not true that if they don’t do it young, they won’t do it at all.

We also need to trust; reading is part of our culture, just like texting. Children are going to want the skill of reading and most of them are capable of doing it in their own time and in their own way. Eventually.

And one day, they might even use that skill to make you a cake!

Here’s the recipe:

10 thoughts on “Reading to learn…

  1. Thank you for sharing this. Your posts are all inspiring but this one is particularly relevant for me at the moment as my 7 year old home educated daughter is showing only minimal interest in reading so far and it’s a good reminder to me to stay back and let her take it at her own pace. (easy to get wobbles at this time of year with relatives asking questions!).

    • So glad to have inspired and reassured Becca! Thanks for leaving your comment. WE all get wobbles at this time of year when we’ve slacked off – me too – so don’t worry. You’ll pick up the pace again, best to ignore relatives and stick to your own path and remind yourself how wretched your daughter would feel in school if reading was forced on her – it could put her off for life! Reading is a pleasure and if that feeling about it remains, it becomes a life long tool as well! Be patient – kids aren’t educated in a day! 🙂

  2. Hi Ross, Thank you for taking the time to share, it is reassuring and a good reminder to trust, especially as it’s too easy to worry sometimes when you hear what their peers are reading at school Cake sounds great too! Clare

  3. Aw Charley look gorgeous in that pic, she would hate me to say it but rather 50’s housewife! And you are correct there are so many different approaches when looking to reach a goal, whether that is an academic one or something later in life x

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