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Homeschool Advice

Dear Helping Hand,

How should I react to my 7-yr. old son's frustrations when after trying ONE time on anything he just gives up and doesn't want to try again? For instance, when asked to read the word "here", he first says "her" and when I open my mouth to correct him or just ask "are you sure?" he starts rolling his eyes and shaking his head down. He's not thrilled with homeschooling...or education for that matter, so if I could rekindle some excitement in him, that may help? Thank you for your advice!


When you think about it, learning to read is perhaps one of the most difficult tasks our children master in their early years. Seemingly effortless for some, yet there are others who put in their share of sweat and tears. Many children seem to advance in spurts instead of in a steady upward fashion. Often the next big leap is proceeded by a period where it seems as if they’ll just never catch on. Be patient and empathetic if this is the case. Let your son know that you’re on his team and that you remember how hard it was to master a difficult task. It might help to separate reading instruction from actual reading practice. Use your spelling or phonics time to go over new words and pronunciations. Then when you read aloud, keep a hands-off approach. If your son makes a mistake or two while he’s becoming more fluent, stay quiet and see if he fixes it himself. If you feel like you "have" to be doing something, keep a pen and paper nearby to keep track of which words give him difficulty. Work on those words in your next phonics lesson.

If lack of practice is the problem, make sure you’re giving him plenty of easy books to read. Reckon yourself to the fact that it may take a year or more to build the kind of fluency you’re looking for. He’ll progress in his own good time, until then give lots of hugs.

It’s possible that your son’s reading difficulties are affecting his view of school in general. It may be time for you to take a look at his other subject areas and decide to ease up in some areas while he’s concentrating on reading. Drawing pictures, playing math games, hearing lots of great literature read aloud, and other worthwhile pursuits can all add up to a fun educational experience for both of you.

A Helping Hand

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