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What Your Child Should be Doing by Now

By Heather Idoni

Added Monday, October 18, 2010

Vol. 11 No. 63, October 18, 2010, ISSN: 1536-2035
© 2010, Heather Idoni - www.FamilyClassroom.net

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Guest Author
-- Barbara Frank
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Winning Website
-- MerriamWebster.com
Reader Question
-- What's Next for Reading?
Additional Notes
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Guest Article

Your Child Should Be Doing This by Now
  by Barbara Frank

Got your attention, didn't I? We moms are certainly susceptible to fearing that our children might be behind in something.

It starts when we're pregnant. Your book for expectant moms says you should feel kicking by 20 weeks. If you don't feel kicking yet, you need an ultrasound to see what's going on.

Well, maybe. But maybe your due date's a wee bit off, or you don't realize that the bubbly feeling in your abdomen is the baby kicking. There's no point in freaking out yet, but the tone of the book makes you feel pretty insecure.

Some time after the baby arrives, you invariably find a book or a website that tells you that your baby should be holding his head up by now, or crawling by now, but he's not. Panic ensues.....what could be wrong with him? Soon after, he does what the experts say he's supposed to do, and you heave a sigh of relief.

One would think we'd get used to these developmental deadlines as our child grows, but no, it only gets worse as he approaches school age. Now educators chime in with the books and websites: your child should know his colors by age 2, his alphabet soon after that and his numbers (up to 50!) by age three.

We homeschooling moms get to enjoy this pressure for years because we're in charge of our children's education. He should be in level three of that math curriculum next year, but he's not ready. Or, he's supposed to be reading books at a fifth grade level but he's still struggling with a third-grade reader. Is he failing homeschooling? Should he be put in public school before he falls further behind?

It's hard not to overreact, but a little knowledge will help manage the fear. It's important to know that developmental deadlines are really not meant for the average child. They're meant to help parents and professionals discern when a child has a problem. You don't need to react unless your child is way behind, and in more than just one area. Children like my son, who has Down syndrome, tend to be far behind in most areas of development, not just one or two, and each stage of development lasts longer than it does for most other kids.

So it's not worth getting upset when your child misses some arbitrary deadline for learning how to read, or how to ride a bike, or wherever it is he appears to be "behind." Kids develop at their own pace. Some read at age three, and others don't until age ten or eleven. Some are math whizzes early on, and others will always struggle with math, even as adults. We all have different talents and abilities, so it's foolish to expect everyone to do things at the same age.

It can also be foolish to overreact. One homeschool mom was so worried that her child wasn't reading well that she stopped all other bookwork and field trips so she could concentrate on teaching her child how to read. They used only phonics curriculum and readers every day, all day long. Nothing else got done.

How dull for that child, and how much pressure! It would be much easier and less stressful (for both of them) if Mom kept their normal routine while also reading aloud more often and making an effort to find library books on topics of special interest to the child. In time, Mom would see signs of improvement and the need for more challenging material for her child. But there's no guarantee of what age the child would be before that happened.

Each of our children is unique. They were created that way. Before we freak out because one is "behind" on something, let's watch and wait. We can no more make a child develop faster than we can force the leaves on a tree to open in the spring. As our grandparents used to say, "All in good time".


Barbara Frank has homeschooled for over 20 years and is the author of several books, including Life Prep for Homeschooled Teenagers and The Imperfect Homeschooler's Guide to Homeschooling.  She named her free newsletter "The Imperfect Homeschooler" because she's learned that we don't have to be perfect moms and teachers to homeschool our children successfully; God uses us despite our imperfections!


Your feedback is always welcome! -- mailto:heather@familyclassroom.net



Helpful Tip

How To Read Kindle Books on Your PC for FREE! :-)

Want to read Amazon Kindle books (especially the many bargain-priced and free books Amazon has) but you aren't ready to buy a Kindle? Well, you can! Amazon has an application that lets you use your computer as the Kindle -- and it's free!


Winning Website

'Word a Day' Vocabulary Builder -- http://www.merriam-webster.com

"Here's a great website for broadening your vocabulary.  You can play word games and use their thesaurus ... but, best of all, you can sign up for their 'word a day' e-mail and learn the history, usage and even pronunciation of a new word each day." -- Barbara in Florida


Do you have a website, tip, idea or experience to share for our next issue?

Send to: mailto:HN-ideas@familyclassroom.net



Last Issue's Reader Question

"My son, 6, just finished Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons and I'm looking for advice for what to do next.  I know there are a lot of reading programs, but I'm looking for something phonics based that will pick up pretty closely to where the other book left off.  Thank you for any suggestions." -- Cara

Our Readers' Responses

"Hi, Cara -- Our 4th child is halfway through the same book. The previous three children have 'explained' to the 4 year old what the 'tradition' is that she will be doing. We made it up with the first child and then figured if it worked with one, it would on the others.  It has.  After the 'Yellow Book' she will read Watch Me with Mom. (It is a 1947 reader about the 2nd grade level). The child does 90% of the reading. When this book is finished, Dad will 'declare' her a reader and she will receive her own Bible. That is it. They have really enjoyed and owned the process as a rite of passage. It is very rewarding to see. So far, they all have taken off reading the books of their choice (being approved by a parent first)." --  David


"Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons seemed so basic... I have looked at other phonics handbooks and phonics workbooks. I have not seen anything laid out so step-by-step and thorough as A Beka. Even if you're not into workbooks, charts, or getting the readers (which are all very well done), I would highly, highly recommend at least getting their Handbook for Reading to expose your reader to all the advanced phonetic sounds. You could easily get a copy used as its a common book." --  Anna H.


"One of my girls really enjoyed the BOB books -- they seemed very accessible to her level and built her confidence." --  Karen C.


"Actually, I don't use any curriculum after they learn their phonics. We simply read real books. I let each boy decide what he wants to read that day -- it g ives them little bits of control.  If the book is a bit hard for one of them, I will alternate pages and sometimes read several pages before giving it back. If it is as easy book, then he gets to read it all. You would think that they would always choose easy books, but that isn't so at all. In fact, sometimes I have to tell the five year old to pick something just a little easier -- I d on't want him to get frustrated by being over-challenged." --  Pam H.


"I have used that same program with my children and I also used The Phonics Game with it as well. We still use the game with their other reading and it really helps as a reinforcement. But to pick-up where you left off with this program, I used Rod and Staff, they have the same type of phonics reading program that I found very useful. But it will have you doing what you were doing with the other program with some prep time before you have class. This is a good program to continue with." -- Dana


"Cara -- I used the same book with my oldest daughter (now 10) when she was 4. By the time she was halfway through the book, she had the concept of reading. So, for a long time after, we did lots of reading of books she was interested in (fiction and non-fiction), and the Bible. We would take turns reading to each other. Reading is something she does for fun; she loves it! So, I don't make it a subject. The one thing she did lack was the spelling aspect. With trial and error, we have found The Phonetic Zoo program to work well for her. Hope this helps!" -- JH


"I used 100 Easy Lessons for two of my children, although I don't think we completed the book with either one of them. We then used Explode the Code, doing 2-3 pages per day, and I also had them read orally to me.   I love the Christian Liberty Press kindergarten phonics readers and used them along with both 100 Lessons and Explode the Code. We also used some of the Bob books and got books from our bookshelves and the library. This worked well and they are both good readers now."


Editor's comments:

Cara -- my husband and I also used 100 Easy Lessons with 4 of our 5 boys when they were ready to learn to read -- in our case, between the ages of 7 and 10.  (One son jumped the gun and taught himself independently with AlphaPhonics!)  Anyway, each of our boys were reading independently enough by about lesson 75, so we stopped the lessons there and got out the real books.  They were confident enough with the phonics, sounding out the words, etc., that faster sight reading came easier to them with early reading books.  Whenever they came across a new sound or blend they hadn't yet learned, it was enough for them to just ask and get the answer from a parent or sibling.  Specifically, we used "I Can Read Books" -- the silly ones as well as the wonderful science and history titles.  After that they took off on their own!  We would share the reading, too, with a parent reading every other page aloud, and quitting when a child grew tired.  Another fantastic series of easier reading books we used was the Discovery biography series from Garrard Publishing.  It is harder to get these wonderful out-of-print titles, but WELL worth it.  Other enjoy readers we used are the Dan Frontier, Cowboy Sam, Ranger Don, and "The Buttons" series from Benefic Press.  If you choose interesting early and graded readers, you'll find your son enjoying reading for himself.  But don't stop reading aloud books that are beyond his level!  It is okay to let him read below his level, too.  Reading should be fun and easy -- not a chore. -- Heather 

Answer our NEW Question

"Hello -- I enjoy your newsletter a lot and decided to write in for some advice. My daughter is currently doing 1st grade level curriculum and we're using The Ordinary Parents' Guide to Teaching Reading. She is doing very well, but she doesn't enjoy the reading lessons and some days it's worse than pulling teeth to get her to do the lesson. She's throwing fits, crying and telling me it's too hard, too much, etc. I wouldn't do it if I really thought it was too hard for her; she just doesn't want to (she is very hardheaded) and I can't figure out how to get over that. She is doing very well on the days she 'decides' she will cooperate and do her lesson. I really like the book we're using and don't like the idea of switching. Any advice will be greatly appreciated! Thanks!" -- Natalie


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