Friday, August 24, 2007

Daddy, Will You Teach Me to Read?

And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.
(Deu 6:6-7)

My second son, and fourth child, Justin frequently looks up at me and asks me the question, “Daddy, will you teach me to read?” When he asks me this, what he wants to know is if I will sit down and work through a lesson in his book, Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons with him. This is the same text that I have used to teach each of my older three children to read.

It is somewhat of a “rite of passage” in our household to be taught, by Daddy, how to read. When Brittney, my oldest, was approaching age 5 I began to research our schooling options. I had heard of homeschooling, but had not actually considered it prior to this time. By the grace of God, Brittney turned 5 on September 2, 1998. This was one day too late to start government school kindergarten in the state of Texas. So, as I had been researching the possibility of homeschooling, my wife and I agreed that I would teach her at home that first year just to “see how it goes.” If it didn’t work well, we’d just enroll her in school in 1999. Thus began our journey into homeschooling. Homeschooling didn’t only “work well,” it worked extremely well. Brittney developed a love for reading. I loved spending the time with her teaching her how to read, write, and do math. That first year, we did it in the evening after work. My wife grew tired of our evenings being consumed with Brittney and I working on her schooling while she cared for our oldest son, Michael, who was two years younger than Brittney. So, the next year, I continued teaching Brittney math in the mornings. Eventually Brittney gained the experience needed to do most of the work on her own. I also changed jobs, which made it difficult to continue the morning routine. Yet, what remained was that I would teach each child to read, in the evening. Doing reading in the evening only takes about 20 minutes a day. My wife now handles anything else that needs to be done during the day, including teaching them writing and math. We’ve never regretted homeschooling and would not consider any other alternative now.

When Sheri and I were first married, she worked in a day care center close to the IBM building where I was working as a co-op student. Everyday Sheri would go to work she’d witness other people’s children take their first steps, say their first words, sit up for the first time, roll over, and on and on. She felt terrible telling a young professional mother that her child had accomplished a particular milestone. Sometimes she didn’t even mention it, hoping that the child would do the same stunt for their parents during the few hours they had with them after work and before bedtime. I see homeschooling in much the same light. There’s nothing like seeing the light in the eyes of your child as he “gets it” when learning to read or do math. There’s nothing like watching him form his letters as he writes, “I luv you.”

This fall, Justin is “officially” beginning school, though we’ve been working through the “Teach Your Child to Read” book somewhat inconsistently since the spring. He is so excited! His face really lit up when his Saxon math worksheets arrived in the mail about a week ago. Every evening when I come home Justin runs to me and asks, “Daddy, will you teach me to read?” It’s time for me to finish up this text book with him so he can move on to more complicated things. After all, he already takes his turn each evening reading from his own Geneva Bible during family worship. ;-)

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