Teaching Reading to An Unwilling Student

So I have been “officially” homeschooling for two and a half years. During that time I have tried countless times to convince my daughter that reading is something she really, really wants to do.

And each time, despite her wish to please me, she has let me know (verbally or otherwise) that she really, really doesn’t want to learn.

Yesterday I had an epiphany. It happened while I was cleaning a client’s bathroom (yes, many ideas come to me while my hands are busy scrubbing away on a sink or tub).

It began with Emily walking into the room and announcing that she knew how to spell a word. “Really?” I said, “spell it for me.”

The word was P-O-O-P-O-O.

Which sparked the following conversation.

Me: You know that reminds me of something.
E: What?
Me: I often find myself saying “when you learn how to read” and that simply isn’t correct.
E: It isn’t?
Me: No. You know how to read. You know lots of words.
E: I do! I know how to read…[rattles off a list of words]
Me: Exactly. And you know how to spell most of them too.
E: [smiling] Yes, I do!
Me: So it isn’t a problem of learning HOW to read. You simply need to learn more words.
E: [now grinning] Yeah!
Me: So…why don’t we start with you learning a word a day? There are little words and big words, which would you like to start with?
E: Little words (I expected this)
Me: Okay…so words with 4, 5, or 6 letters?
E: Yes!
Me: Would you like to start now?
E: Yes, I want to know how to spell “that”
Me: I bet you can figure that out, ‘th’ starts the same way as “the”
E: Okay, so ‘th’. [We sounded out the rest of the word.] I want to learn a new word today, Mama!
Me: Great. What word do you want to learn?
E: Twit, let’s see, it starts with a ‘t’.

This is what I get from calling another driver on the road a twit.

So only time will tell if this word a day thing will work or not. I’m thinking that a nice, lined book that she can write her words in will be nice. She could also practice writing the date each day next to it – reinforcing the awareness of calendar dates as we go.

I dream of the day she will read fluently and willingly. One in which she ENJOYS the process to the exclusion of other things, lost in worlds we can only reach with our imaginations.

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