Can you imagine how hard that would be and how easy it would be to just give up and not try? Our son often would say "I want to read but it just doesn't make any sense". At age 6, we started formal reading programs with him and worked on it everyday. We did the entire Starfall.com program, then went to ReadingEggs.com and then purchased All About Reading Level 1. Last year, we did the "Blast Off to Reading" curriculum that is Orton-Gillingham based lessons designed specifically for Dyslexic kids and he even had personalized individual tutoring with a reading coach in our town each week.....and still, he wasn't reading. Talk about frustrated! I can't tell you how many times I have cried to David about it, doubted my teaching methods, felt sorry for our son because of how much he wanted to read and seeing his desire to read but watching him struggle, get frustrated, and lose confidence in his abilities. I listened to people judge him because of his age and the fact that he was 9 years old and couldn't read, listened to criticism on homeschooling and why it's bad because of things like this, been told things like "obviously you aren't the best teacher for him" and "he would get much better help if you put him in public school", etc. Thanks to many homeschool friends who continually encouraged me and the most wonderful, supportive, homeschool-loving husband who kept telling me I was doing it just right and not to give up, we persisted and continued doing reading, sight words, and sentence strips everyday.
Last week, we went to the library (which is common for us) and let the kids check out books. Our small town library has a rule of only 5 books per card no matter if your an adult or child so we are very limited in what we can check out each week. For all you homeschooling families, that can check out 50 books per card....you are so lucky! Anyway, Wyatt typically checks out 3 books that he wants me to read to him about animals (he loves learning about animals) and I make him choose 2 books that we can read "together", meaning he reads all the words he can, I make him sound out others, and some of them I just tell him.
We came home from the library, finished their homeschool for the day, and then he asked if we could "read together". So we piled up on the couch and he grabbed Dr. Seuss "Green Eggs & Ham" book. You should know that we don't own this book at home, he hasn't read it anywhere, seen the movie or anything and this was a brand new book to him. He read the cover it all by himself, then the next page, and the next page, and the next page....and at this point I'm sitting there with my mouth open in shock that he is actually reading without any help! He read to page 42 before he asked me for help with a word and he was smiling the entire time!! By the time he asked me for help, I was in tears of happiness. He read the entire book and was so proud of himself. In fact, you can watch a short clip of him reading too. When David got home from the office, Wyatt asked to read to him and again read the entire Dr. Seuss book plus The Bernstein Bears "Bears in the Night" book. He asked to go to the library the next day and return all his books (even though we hadn't read 3 of them) and get 5 books that HE could read. So we did.....
He has continued to read everyday and is reading to anyone who will listen to him. Granted, he is still a beginning reader level but boy, oh boy, are we praising God for his sudden progress, for his excitement to read, for the smile on his face as he reads, and for the sound of his sweet little voice reading! We are working on harder sight words now and I played a little game with him this week where he got to put a sticker anywhere on my face for every sight word flashcard he could say correctly with no help. When David got home, he played the game again with Wyatt and let him cover his face in stickers too (see, I told y'all he was the best encourager)! Needless to say, Wyatt was super motivated to get the flashcards right.
On a side note, let me just say that all the reading programs I mentioned I still highly recommend to others. You see, it wasn't the programs fault that Wyatt wasn't reading and it wasn't bad materials. It was simply a timing issue. Wyatt was 9 years old before he could read a book and that's o.k. His brain just learns a little differently than most kids and we just had to be patient and persistent and keep encouraging him (even though at times that was so hard to do). Right now, Wyatt is using Explode the Code and he is really enjoying it this year.
So, if your child is not yet reading or struggles with Dyslexia, just know that there will be a moment when all the pieces finally click together and they "get it" and start reading. You are a wonderful teacher for them (despite criticism or your own doubt) and they probably wouldn't want anyone else to be their best cheerleader while they learn to read. So hang in there, keep your chin up, keep working with them everyday, and when your child learns to read, know that I will be celebrating with you!