One of the things that is satisfying about homeschooling is the feedback, the almost instant information that a child is learning. It has been a learning experience for me, this being our first year sending any of the children away to school, of how little I now know about their academic lives. From knowing everything they do each day to only hearing bits and pieces in the car on the way home, from seeing each piece of work to only having a general idea of how their grades are. Luckily I trust the school (up to a point) that they are being educated.
My little boys, on the other hand, are still fully under my tutelage, and so I knew a few weeks back that Timmy was struggling in reading to the point of tears and head banging (his leaky eyes and my achy head). I made an executive decision to start over again with Teach Your Child To Read in 100 Easy Lessons and now, I can say that it was the right thing to do. He is now back up to lesson 30, sounding out letters and reading short stories with much more ease and confidence. It doesn't really matter in the long run if he finishes first grade by June or even by next winter, the important thing is for him to learn the basics of reading and to learn to love to read.
Charlie has really made great progress in his reading skills as well, faster and with better pronunciation than he had even a few weeks ago. We finished both boys science and history books for the year, so I started reading aloud a few chapters every day as part of "sofa stuff," biographies of famous Americans. Timmy and I have read about John Paul Jones, Betsy Ross, Abraham Lincoln, and now George Washington. Charlie really has gotten interested in all things mechanical so I started him on The History of Flight. Yes, he could pull them off the shelf and read them on his own, but part of my job is to select the right books for each child's level and interest.
Reading today about the 80% illiteracy rate of New York City graduates at community colleges, helped reinforce my basic philosophy that the most important job I have as a homeschooling mom is to make sure that my children are excellent readers. Without those skills and eagerness to read for fun, they will still be living at home when they are 30, unable to graduate from college, find a job, and provide for themselves. And after 15 years of nursing babies, changing nappies, potty training, cooking large meals, doing multiple loads of laundry, chauffeuring two hours a day, that is something I don't even want to joke about.