Reading Horizons Winner and Reading Readiness

I know I said I might be MIA this week, turns out I'm not. I love this space and connecting with you through comments. So, there are still posts showing up but I'm spending a significant amount less time writing and online in general (taking a break from my blog reader).

I may extend this "break" through to next week, especially since homeschool planning is taking a lot of time and I'll need to do more next week. Designing a program of study for our young adult is so exciting and so scary! And includes a lot of "God, please give me wisdom!" (written right in the plans)

I wanted to pop in today to let you know that the Reading Horizons giveaway is closed and the winner is Christina. Congrats Christina!

If you didn't win you can still check out a free 7 day trial.

not ours, though a kitten may be in our future

I wanted to say something about that - the program trial and reading readiness in general.

It took me a while to get used to the Reading Horizons program. In other words, it wasn't love at first try. I tried my best to keep my reservations from Laurent so I wouldn't influence his learning. My children tend to have a much more open mind about things than I do. I was confused by some things (this happens to me easily with computer software) and frustrated by others. This is where I talked to the company rep and had my concerns addressed. 

I didn't have space or time to share all this in my review, I was trying to keep it succinct. But I did want to share this in case you trial the program and feel disappointed. I can't guarantee your happiness or success with this program. I just know that I didn't feel totally comfortable with it until after we had used it for over one month.

Now, the Reading Horizons online program is simply a regular part of our day and we've learned to laugh through the parts that we find tedious (tickling helps), to ask the company for help or clarification if something isn't working for us, and to keep an open mind. This last one is a big point for me. We like this program and we hope it helps some other struggling readers.

I worry sometimes that when I share a resource we are using, people will jump to try that thing without carefully considering their unique child and family. This concerns me more now that I'm coaching and as my blog is more widely read and people look to me for homeschool advice and wisdom. Gulp.

I take this responsibility very seriously. And I firmly believe that each family needs to find their own homeschooling path and that what works for one family or one child will not work for everyone. Obvious yes, but I need to state it, like a medical disclaimer.

I am especially concerned that in our society's rush to push children to read, people will read my blog and say, "our 4 year old needs to start this reading program." Nothing could be further from my actual intention.

I recently read an excellent article on reading readiness by Laura Grace Weldon. I also highly recommend her book Free Range Learning: How Homeschooling Changes Everything. Highly recommend. I've wanted to mention it on the blog for some time, maybe even a write a review. If that review never comes, I've at least mentioned it now.

I came across the reading readiness article through Simple Homeschool and I'm so glad I did. (Jamie posts great weekend links.)

If you are tempted to sit your young child down in front of a computer to learn to read, or are stressed that your young child is not reading yet or some variation of "my child hasn't met this benchmark yet", I encourage you to read that post.

Reading is absolutely important, so is writing, math, science, etc. But that does not mean that come September 4th (the first Tuesday after labor day) you have sit your young child down and start teaching them to read. I'm not saying you never sit your child down and help them learn to read. What I am saying is that you don't need to panic about it.

Your child is wired for learning at certain ages and stages. Not all one year old babies walk, not all seven year old children read. 

If (and this is a big if) problems develop as your child naturally grows and matures (like wanting desperately to read but struggling very much to do so) you can bring in the resources you need.

The key here is knowing your child. I can't overemphasize this enough. What does it matter what everyone else is doing?

Where is your child at? What are her needs right now, in this season of life? If you develop relationship with your child above all else (ie: good relationship matters more than your child "succeeding academically") you will be in tune enough to pull in resources when needed or pull them out when they aren't working.

I can't say I'm always perfectly in tune but I do respond when things aren't working - and your kids will let you know when things aren't working! Tears, frustration, sullenness, restlessness, behavior issues - they'll tell you.

As we make our plans for this upcoming school year let's keep an open mind to where our children are at.

Brienne's carob milkshakes for snack

Starting a new routine feels bumpy and there might be resistance - my children grumble a bit when our days get a bit more structured. Whether that's taking responsibility for lunch dishes or starting math practice again. Once you get through the normal amount of that, be watching to see if your plans are actually a good fit for your family and your child. Your kids will let you know.

Renee Tougas participates in affiliate marketing, including the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program. Whenever you buy something on Amazon from a link you clicked here, I get a (very) small percentage of that sale. See disclosure for further explanation.

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  • Laura

    Laura on Aug. 29, 2012, 1:27 p.m.

    Thanks for the link to my blog and kind words about my book. Dearly appreciated Renee. I love the photos of your kids. It may not have been intentional, but it resonated with me that the first photo was an empty chair in front of the computer and all the rest were images of kids having direct, hands-on, sensory experiences. On our best days, that's what we do too.


    • renee

      renee on Aug. 29, 2012, 1:55 p.m.

      And that's my computer work, not the kids! All the planning I'm doing for this year's school curriculum which is very much project, play and reading based (with a few lesson type activities also). And thanks for visiting Laura - I LOVE your book. I've Kindle highlighted so many sections that I gave up since I just wanted to highlight it all! I'm honored you would stop by and say hi. 


  • Tonya

    Tonya on Aug. 29, 2012, 3:03 p.m.

    Love this post Renee. With our fifth, Sarah, we have had to have lots of faith in my innate belief that, just like you mentioned, children are all wired differently and that in most cases, it clicks in when their brains have reached the developmental milestone. - she is nearly 8 1/2 and has had to use a phonics based approach - sounding most words out - but it is becoming easier for her every day and just so exciting to see the joy on her face when she reads Abraham a story (he is four). We faced a bit of trial and questioning from caring grandparents wondering about her not reading yet. All of our other children were very young readers or right "on time". But now is her time and i can rest in the knowledge that her time is the right time. Thanks for sharing about that book - it has been in my amazon cart for some time and you gave me the boost to order it. Blessings, Tonya


  • Anonymous

    Anonymous on Aug. 29, 2012, 3:06 p.m.

    Renee, I hope this doesn't seem too off topic, but I'm wondering if you have any thoughts on how best to encourage a four-year-old who has no interest whatsoever in picking up a pencil/marker/crayon to mark on paper. I'm not worried, exactly, and I do realize he's ONLY FOUR, but I also recognize that many children at this age are drawing representational pictures and trying out letters and I wonder if there's something more I ought to be doing beyond simply making the materials available every day. Many thanks for your continued thoughtful and inspirational posts!


    • heather

      heather on Aug. 30, 2012, 12:28 a.m.

      i'm not renee, but your comment made me think of something. fine motor skills take time to develop, and there may be more "fun" ways to encourage those little finger muscles to strengthen. i've worked in a montessori preschool/kindergarten classroom and there were many activities we used to develop pencil holding interest.

      for instance - take an ice cube tray or plastic paint tray (with six or so indentations), place a bunch of small craft pompoms in a bowl next to the tray, give the child a pair of tweezers and encourage them to place "2 pompoms per section" or "blue in one section, red in another, green in another, etc".

      i just did a quick google search and found a great montessori 3-6 activity page (link below). you can see by looking through (click on photos to take you through to actual project instructions) that those little fingers doing a lot of "pinching" type activities is the precursor to holding a pencil or crayon. hope this helps. :)


      • renee

        renee on Aug. 30, 2012, 11:03 a.m.

        Heather, thank you so much for adding your experience and voice here. I don't have anything to add to that, in fact I had no real ideas since I haven't experienced that with our own children and my formal training and out-of-the-home teaching was limited to older children.


      • Anonymous

        Anonymous on Sept. 3, 2012, 1:47 p.m.

        Yes, Heather, thank you! (Love your blog, too, btw.) Apparently driving all those little trucks around for the last three years hasn't been quite enough fine motor skill development. :)


  • Laura

    Laura on Aug. 29, 2012, 8:20 p.m.

    Renee, is the book that you recommend mostly for children in the younger grades or is it good for older students, as well? I know that Jamie also recommends this book, so I am pondering adding it to my kindle. Thanks!


    • renee

      renee on Aug. 30, 2012, 12:21 a.m.

      Laura, I think it's a great book for the whole homeschooling journey. I'm reading it right now, about one third through, and I'm inspired with ideas and encouragement for the stage that I'm currently at and the direction we're headed (late elementary, middle school/junior high is where we are, with high school to come). This is definitely not a book just for beginners. One of the things I love about the book is all the real life stories and experience from homeschooling families. The book is packed with that, as well as Laura's personal experience and down-to-earth wisdom. I own it and read it on my Kindle and I have one complaint about that. The text sometimes has special boxes (I bet they add nice variety in-print) that are really hard to read on the Kindle and I can't make the text inside the boxes larger. So I squint. But these are few and far between. But those boxes have some great info. 


  • Anastasia @ Eco-Babyz

    Anastasia @ Eco-Babyz on Aug. 30, 2012, 9:44 p.m.

    I just had to mention, LOVE that photo of Laurent with the caterpillar on his face! :))))

    I definitely agree, what everyone else is doing really doesn't matter! Helping your kids find their own learning path is so important.


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