Leaving Kids Alone to Read

OK, so how do I teach English reading to American kids who go to French school?


Otto's home made Tricolour


First I looked through Aretae’s big three posts on homeschooling:

  1. Homeschooling post. [His thoughts and a reading list.]
  2. Why Homeschool? [Pros and cons.]
  3. Homeschool Curricula.

This led me to many pages and sites, the most interesting of which was the Psychology Today Freedom to Learn blog. I came to the conclusion, aided by those folk, that motivation was the high-order bit. In the past when Lucy (7) showed an interest in reading I’d jump in and assist, figuring that anything I can do to push the reading further would help. I was maximising short-term skill acquisition, which was not helping with motivation.

Today when Otto (5) grabbed a book and started reading it, I left him to it. He had picked up a lot of phonemes from joining in when I played word games with Lucy, so he had enough skill to read some of the simple Bob books lying around. After twenty minutes of reading, Lucy joined in. As always with those two they got competitive, fighting over who got to read specific books. Some of it was very positive. I stayed out of the way.

I’m not sure if sibling rivalry is a good way to teach reading, but I made sure I didn’t harm Otto’s motivation. The challenge for us is to have enough stimulus around to generate interest in the kids without controlling them. We’re Idle Parents anyway so this has been an easy transition so far. I ignore them, make sure I don’t feel guilty about it and pour another glass of  ‘ten litres for 12€ ’ red.


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