Monday, June 27, 2011

The Teacher Being The Student

I am a teacher. There is no doubt. I hardly ever engage in any activity with my children without seeing the educational side of it.

But I also love to learn. And lately I find myself soaking in every tidbit I can to be a better woman, wife, mother and teacher. I don't feel pressure to learn, just a desire. I am not feeling inadequate or that I'm not doing enough, I am just enjoying finding new and inspirational ways to do things.

The other day I stumbled across a book study on The Book Whisperer by Donalyn Miller going on at Thinking of Teaching. And I don't know why, but I jumped on board. I love to read and since I have started homeschooling, reading has become one of my greatest passions. And I want my children to have a passion for it as well. There is never any reason to be bored when you have a book to read. It takes you anywhere you want to go.

So I'll be posting my discussion questions from the book study here, since this is my homeschooling blog. The book is directed toward traditional school educators, but I hope to glean some insight into ways I can help my children develop a love for reading in our homeschool.

"I am convinced that if we show students how to embrace reading as a lifelong pursuit and not just a collection of skills for school performance, we will be doing what I believe we have been charged to do: create readers." ~ Donalyn Miller, Introduction pg. 4.

As a home educator who still has two public school students and who has two former public school students at home with her, I can see this at work!

Kyndal will be a junior in high school this year, and she hates to read! Hates it! Getting her to meet her Accelerated Reading (AR) goal each quarter was the most miserable experience of each year! And she would wait until, literally, the night before to do it! And it was only to get her grade. This coming year will be the first year that there is not a required AR Goal. And I don't know if she will ever pick up a book again.

Dawson will be a freshman in high school this year and is homeschooled. When he was little, he read every single Magic Treehouse Book and loved them! Once he got of an age where he had AR Goals, his love for reading decreased because it became something he had to do. He now loves to read what he loves to read, but doesn't want to read anything else. He chose and read two novels this year, and didn't have to be reminded to read. If I had something for him to read for school, it was like pulling teeth to get it done.

Eli will be in the 2nd grade at our public school this year. With his speech delays, reading has been a struggle. He gets overwhelmed if a book (or page) seems too long and is so distracted that he can't read. His nightly reading/phonics homework was a nightmare every night! This summer I decided to work with him intensively on reading. Most days he doesn't want to read. Some days he'll read independently. Some days he won't. He usually asks how many pages he has to read. He read one 60 page book that took him over a week. And then today something happened. He brought me a 64 page book, Morris Goes to School, that he started last week. He was smiling and said he wanted to read it. And he sat down and read the whole thing. Why? He was enjoying what he was reading.

And then there is Brynne who is almost 6 and will be homeschooled as a 2nd grader this next year. She loves to read and will read anything. She'll read what I want her to read. She'll read for pleasure. But, she started at home and reading has been the cornerstone of all we have done in her schooling.

We tend to favor the Charlotte Mason method of educating. We incorporate Living Books into our studies every single day. We learn primarily by reading about it. We are even doing it this summer in the form of unit studies. But there is one thing that Ms. Mason says that I don't agree with ... she is pretty adamant about children not being allowed to read "twaddle", described sometimes as "talking down to children", beneath their knowledge level, silly.

I want my kids to read. I want my kids to enjoy reading. If that means they read something silly for a while to spark their interest into reading something with more substance, then so be it. We'll read meaty stuff when necessary. And when we are not, we'll read some twaddle if we want.

I like romance novels, Christian books, historical fiction, biographies, classics, encouragements, diaries, memoirs, how-to's, magazines, blogs, whatever. I like to read. Sometimes I'm serious and sometimes I read junk. And I think that's okay.

So, I say all of that to say this ... I don't want to teach my children to read for educational purposes only. There is a time and place for that. But there is also a time and place for just picking up a book, flipping upside down on the couch barefoot and reading while you giggle, sniffle and/or shudder.

I can't wait to see what I learn from this book!


  1. Great post. One comment about the twaddle - I mostly agree with you, but one thing I noticed in our house is that when my oldest read too much "twaddle," reading the great books and classics became more of a chore because it required more thinking. I think Twaddle has its place, but I limit it for that reason. It didn't help that my oldest wasn't keen on reading to begin with. My Bear will read 24/7 and I hope his little brother turns out the same! He is definitely hungry to keep learning to read so that is a good sign :)

  2. I love how you said that you see everything in terms of its educational value- me too! I also like that you don't pressure your kids into reading "non-twaddle". When I took a reading qualification course I read a great article that basically said that a kid that reads "twaddle" at least has a taste for reading, and that taste may improve. A kid that never reads will never have a taste for any reading. I say if it's words on a page, let them read it!!

    Make sure you check out the read along on July 11th- 15th when we are having a special event-
    How does The Book Whisperer connect to homeschooling?

    Glad to have you with us!
    Thinking of Teaching

  3. glad you saw and joined the book whisperer book club :)

    great post!!!


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