How to Teach Your Child to Read

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In my pride, I always thought that my children would read pre-pre-preschool.

In the womb, I read them fairy tales. In toddlerhood, I balanced them on my lap and flipped through sturdy board books. I leaned over the bathtub and spelled out words with rubber letters. From about age two, I read them piles of books and we visited the library 2-3 days per week. At one point, I was reading approximately 50 books out loud per day. I've read them the complete Narnia chronicles, the Little House series, The Secret Garden, A Little Princess, Charlotte's Web, all unabridged. I have an English degree, a graduate degree, and friends like Doestovsky and Shakespeare and Dickens on my bookshelf.

When my firstborn faltered a bit with decoding in first grade, I was puzzled. This bright, perceptive, and mature little girl has a sharp memory and faultless handwriting. She can sing in Latin, identify fractions, recite lengthy poems, and use words like "pandemonium" and "ominous" in a sentence. Her report cards have been dazzling and she is definitely reading, but perhaps not as fluidly as I might have expected.

The prompt for her journal entry this past week for school was to write about things she was good at and things she could improve on. I asked her about the good things. "Art," she fluttered, a smile over her face. I prompted for more. "I believe in Jesus," she said resolutely, "I help people." And that was all. In the improvements section, she said, "I am going to get better at reading...so I can read the Bible more often." It was like she lifted a mirror right up to my soul at that moment.

I wanted her to read for all the wrong reasons. And she, with sincerity and humility, wanted to read to know God more.

I was trying to teach her all of the Fry sight words, but SHE was teaching ME to see.

A 7-year-old brought me to my knees..."What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ." (Philippians 3:8).

I have absolutely no doubt that she'll soar as a reader - in her own time. Probably by the end of the year, she'll be begging me to keep the light on after bedtime "for one more chapter."

In the meantime, we'll work hard on sight words, flash cards, digraphs, and vowel sounds...but I'll also rest. Because I'm raising much more than a reader. I'm raising a little girl that loves Jesus with her whole heart and soul.

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©2020 Stephanie Sheaffer - All Rights Reserved
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