Saturday, August 08, 2009

Reluctant Readers and Low Vision Students - Reading Readiness is Not Just for Preschoolers

After my post about our curriculum for the coming year, I received requests. In essence: "Do you have suggestions about homeschooling low vision children who are younger?" I do. I always have ideas when it comes to educating our children. And I know that if you are homeschooling - or parenting - you do, too. And I think that if I share ideas with you, it might trigger additional ideas of your own.

Unbelievably, it has been a month since that post. (I'm so sorry.) I've jotted notes on various scraps of paper (Where are they?). I've thought about how I can combine low vision with other reading difficulties. (Will it be too cumbersome?)

I've struggled to figure out just how to write this. So I am going to stop hemming and hawing, and just begin. So here goes...

First of all, I feel badly that we are getting closer and closer to a new school year and here I am finally writing this. However, I don't endorse any one particular curriculum as having all the answers, anyway, so it's not like I'm "too late".

Reading Readiness is Not Just for Preschoolers
Learning is about life and life is about learning. Children with low vision, and children in general, comprehend more of what they read or study when they have some familiarity with the topic. Let me go a step further and say that this applies to all ages. The books I enjoy the most (both fiction and nonfiction) usually have some aspect - whether geography, characterization, history, philosophy, or whatever - that I am already familiar with.

My #1 recommendation: Saturate your children with wholesome "life experience".

Our children have always - from "babes in arms" through high school (and sometimes the college students) - gone with me to do the weekly grocery shopping. I have never made a contrived teaching experience out of it, but what a great place for intuitive learning! Just a few of the things that can be learned in the grocery store include: thrift; marketing and advertising; math; foods from different countries; seeing (and sometimes talking with) people of different cultures (especially if you live in a big city); seeing different kinds of work...not just the cashiers, but the managers, butchers, bakers, and the custodians. As my children see me treating the person who runs the store and the person who cleans the store with the same friendly respect, they learn a lesson I could not teach them from any book.

I might be spending too much time on one facet of my family's education. (Maybe I should be writing a book instead of a blog post.) But the fact that this one thing has been important in our lives fits with something I feel strongly about: What is important in your lives? What do you do well? What do you love? Music? Crafts? Gardening? If you can, share that with your children. Don't force it on them, or expect them to love it as you do (some will; some won't). But share it with them; give them opportunities.

What do you or your husband do that you don't particularly love but that you do well or often because it needs to be done? Home repairs? Cooking? Sewing? Share it with your children...and you may even find that one of them does love it. (Ah, and the serendipity of it is that now you might not have to do as much of it anymore.) For me, cooking has always been something to do because I like to eat...and feed my family, but definitely not my hobby. However, I always let my children help - from the time they could stand up on a chair at the counter - and not only did it increase their math and reading (without any intentional "school-type" lessons), but some of my children love to cook (thank you, thank you).

What about field trips? It was not until this past year that my son and I went on field trips with a homeschool co-op. That was great and we enjoyed it a lot...but anything can be a field trip. Over the past 25 years of educating our children, most of our field trips have been with Dad on the weekend or on a family vacation. What's in your area? What's enroute to Grandma's house? Your child (and you) can become fascinated with nature, history, you explore parks and museums...and even as you just take walks in the neighborhood or work in your backyard.

What in the world does all this have to do with reading?...or with educating a child who is low vision or a child who is a reluctant reader? Well, first of all, although I am an avid reader myself, and a great believer in the importance of reading, I have learned that reading is not where all learning comes from. Secondly, I believe that life experience is the best preparation for both life and learning.

I will write more - and cover some other aspect of learning, some aspect of teaching reluctant readers and low vision children - in another post. Hopefully, we won't have to wait a month for the next post. I say "we" because I have enjoyed writing this and sharing with you. I hope that you have enjoyed it, too.


Post 2 on Reluctant Readers and Low Vision Students -
Reading Aloud is Not Just for Kindergartners

Post 3 on Reluctant Readers and Low Vision Students -
Writing What a Child Dictates is Not Just for First Graders

Post 4 on Reluctant Readers and Low Vision Students - Resources

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thank you. I needed to be reminded of what's important. There is so much to learn everywhere. I sometimes get so bogged down with the "list" of what I think must be done, that I forget how much is learned in our daily lives, if we take time to notice.

I do look forward to any info you have on reading/writing ideas for low vision reluctant readers/writers.