Ask Our Readers: When the Child Doesn't Want To

Posted by  | Wednesday, January 18, 2012  at 10:06 AM  
We have talked a lot about teaching our children here at POH, as all of us are in the throes of teaching our children to read and write.

But what do you do if your child doesn't "want to"? As in, to quote my daughter, "Mommy, I don't want to [work on that]. Reading is HARD!" She is willing to work on our reading lessons for a brief time, but she quickly tires of it and complains that it is too hard. I have explained to her that reading is hard, but there are great rewards that come with learning to read. I am not certain how to proceed. Should I enforce a certain 'reading lesson' time limit? Should I try a different method? Should I take a break?

Just to put this in context, Georgia is five years old. We are currently working through the Hooked on Phonics workbook (given to us and recommended by my sister, an elementary school teacher). She knows her letters and their sounds very well. She can write her letters fairly well. She loves books and stories, but in general she does not like to work hard, even when there are rewards at the end of the work (I hate to use the term lazy, but she is definitely not a 'driven' child). Her lazy tendency comes naturally--I have not been regularly working with her on the reading either, but I am trying to be more diligent about that.

I would love your thoughts!


Jennifer S said...

It helped when we reached the point where our lessons included short stories Grace was able to read. (We were using Teach your child...100 lessons, and Christian Liberty's Phonics Readers.) I don't know how HOP is laid out, but maybe BOB readers or some other books for beginning readers? If there are not stories in the lessons, maybe alternate on days that you do reading. If the last reading experience was a lesson, then just have her read a few pages (sentences) in a book. The next time you do reading, do a lesson again. And so on.

Meg said...

I think most kids get "lazy" when things are tough... Karis is the same way with anything new that I teach her, especially with reading. She loves putting sounds on the board and practicing them but doesn't want to work hard to figure them out in books. I had to let her know that we would do her reading every day and then she could pick out what she wanted me to read to her. She protested the 1st day and then again after we took a break for Christmas, but each time I reminded her that she needed to do it with a happy heart or we would not do our "fun" reading. Now she goes and picks out her reading book and her "fun" book right away without me even telling her to and seems to actually enjoy it. I always get at least 5 books from the library with words that she can read but I don't make her read all of them because it is overwhelming to her at this point. I usually pick one or two words out of each sentence that she can figure out. And if she is having difficulty, I praise her hard work and end the reading session early so she doesn't get too frustrated. She also loves it when I pull a book from the shelf that we have read for years (like The Cat in the Hat) and we do her reading out of that. She knows a lot of the words by heart but it is still good for her to see how they are written. Good luck and know that your child is not the only one that seems to have lazy tendencies! No one wants to work hard :)

Kirstie H. said...

(I am a friend of Meg and Leah P.) I saw your post and it brought back memories of when I started homeschooling 14 years ago. Encouraging reading can be a difficult but rewarding process. You mentioned two very different things in your post, your consistency and her reluctance. I had the same combination with my oldest child.

When I first started homeschooling, consistency was my most difficult hurdle. Teaching my son, a very reluctant reader, seemed overwhelming. (He would even read “I” for “a”…ugh! How can you misread “I” :)?) Compounding the problem, since we were not doing school as often as we should, I would try to push my son in the lessons that we did.

Every reading lesson should not be hard. I found that doing it daily really was the key to success. I love to compare doing school to wearing a seat belt. (Although your generation has always worn seat belts, mine has not.) Children that have consistently been buckled in don’t baulk at wearing a seat belt. If you have ever made a child not used to wearing a seat belt buckle up, you can appreciate the complaining that strap can generate. Homeschooling is the same way. The more I consistent I was, the less reluctance there was on his part. Most importantly, I felt secure in going slower.

While I was addressing my consistency, I also tackled his reluctance. My children’s minister, who had a PhD in literature, encouraged me to have him spend an hour on his bed reading every day. For an hour after lunch, everyone could take as many books on their bed as the frame would hold. They could not take toys, electronics, or stuffed animals. There was no talking or singing. I wanted the only thing to entertain them to be those books. We did this every day, including Sundays (for about 8 years). I did not want reading=school; I wanted reading=fun.

I continued his reading lessons... gently. When he would start to get frustrated (which was frequently), I would backtrack a little and review. I tried to avoid negative connotations to reading. It is a privilege, a gift.

That little fellow is now 19 years old. I wish I could find a stronger adjective than veracious to describe the type of reader he is now, which tickles my heart. I love reading and wanted that gift for my children.


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