Friday, May 09, 2008

Ditching the Reading Curriculum

Reading. It is a vital skill to master. As important as eating, sleeping and breathing. Reading and writing are essential to function as a contributing member in our society. Without the skill, one lives in poverty. This has hit home hard over the last month. As I have read numerous books on slavery and the underground railroad, one theme has been hit on again and again. SLAVES WERE NOT ALLOWED TO READ OR WRITE OR BE INSTRUCTED IN MATTERS OF EDUCATION. It breaks my heart. A whole race being withheld from education for the purpose of controlling them and preventing uprise.
While it breaks my heart, it also ignites a fire. To see my children and those near my influence, LOVE reading! Not just tolerate it. I want them to love it. I want them to be able to read anything they desire. I want them to educate themselves on whatever they find of interest or use. I want them to be able to carry on meaningful discussions about things they have learned. Especially things they have learned in a book. Be it history, a good novel, a newspaper, a magazine, a field guide or science experiment. I want them to have the knowledge to not only decipher the written language, I want them to love it.
And right now, my son simply tolerates it.
He enjoys figuring words out. He enjoys mom reading books to him. He really has been completely engrossed in biographies. First Stephen Bishop and currently Abraham Lincoln. Yet when it comes time for his Reading lesson, he drags himself to the reading spot. He continuously asks for me to alternate reading paragraphs with him. Some stories we can zoom through, while others are painstakingly picked at. There are moments, recently, where he will ask to stay up late to look through a book. And wanting him to read, I do let him. In those moments I see a light in his eyes, glimpses of what reading can be.
So today, I decided to ditch the Reading Curriculum. Oh yes I did!
I will share with you my thought process.
Part of my home school thinking is I am not raising two children, I am raising two adults. When they are grown I do not want them to still act as children I want them to be fully functioning, contributing, intellectual members of society. So with whatever I choose to teach them with, I have to ask myself if it will help me to achieve that goal. In regards to Reading, I have asked myself, how I want them to view reading as an adult. My answer is that I want them to love reading. I want them to be able to pick up any source and media, obtaining useful information from it. I want them to be able to read whatever interests them. I want them to be able to pick up a newspaper and know what is happening in their world and in their backyard. I want them to know what it is like to be so wrapped up in a book, that they do not go to bed until 3am to finish it. And I want their life to be richer and fuller because of books. I know my life is.
Continuing with the thought process...
If I want them to be able to read what interests them, why don't I do more of that now. The answer is, by the time we finish curriculum, he is zapped not wanting to do any further reading. He would rather be outside playing. And me wanting him to be outside playing... that is a whole different post.
So I asked myself how I could change this situation. And the answer was ditch the curriculum. Some may gasp, some may raise their eyebrows and wait curiously to see if we are successful. And still others reading, are cheering and shouting 'Hallaluia!' because you know it can be done.
In ditching it, I did not ditch the idea of any formal reading time. Nor have I ditched the Phonics and English grammar side of language. We will still do the English curriculum Instead, I have decided to let the boy read WHAT HE WANTS TO READ. The thought is revolutionary in my mind.
We will take time each day for him to read to me a book.
Now I did have some concern as to how to encourage different concepts and media so I decided to alternate the choosing of a book. Today he chose. Monday, I will choose. Tuesday, he will choose. And so on. In doing so I hope to encourage him to read things of interest but also challenge him to look at other authors, types of reading material and review things I may notice need review.
I am quite hopeful.
Today, I presented my thoughts to the boy. He seemed more than willing to agree. He quickly selected a book form his book shelf. One he had read only once before and with much assistance.
Today, he breezed through it. He read with ease and confidence. And what delighted me most was his use of expression. We were reading from the book Are You My Mother by Don Eastman. And every time the little bird spoke he would do so in a high pitch voice. And then I noticed he would change to a low voice for the dog. He used inflection where there were exclamation points. His eyes were sparkling with love of reading.
If today is any indication for the future, I think we may have ditched the Reading Curriculum forever.


momteacherfriend said...

News report:
This just in, my son asked ME if we could read another Dr Suess book. As in him read it to me.
So happy I could sing.

screamofcontinuousness said...

reading is essential. My parents fostered a desire in myself and my brother to read, and we are forever grateful.
I don't know how this translates to homeschooling, but we read books (like the Hobbit) out loud every evening after dinner. The book would pass from hand to hand and each person read as far as they could. This was between my 2nd and 3rd grade year, so the Hobbit was waaaay above our reading level, but the exercise made us WANT to learn more.

mommyofangels said...

That is awesome, reminds me of when I was in school... I could sit hours on end reading books that I was interested in. Ever once did I enjoy the books given to me by my teachers...I hated literature... how sad huh...
I do love reading though.