Encouragement for the Homeschool Mama With a Struggling Reader

If you’re anything like me, you’ve taken full ownership of the struggle. You wear it like a badge of shame …an ugly cloak that veils all the successes of your day. As if it is your fault. As if something you have done or haven’t done has crippled your child’s ability to ever get it right. You tell yourself, “If only someone else would have taught him how to read …” or “Maybe a ‘real’ teacher would know how to do it better.”

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But what you don’t know, momma, and what you don’t see, is what a dear friend reminded me of recently … a “struggle” shows that you are doing something RIGHT!

Struggle is a verb.
It implies action.
It implies effort.
It implies giving it all you’ve got.

If you are teaching a struggling reader, it means that together you are RIGHT NOW developing a reader. You are not sitting idly by and watching from the sidelines.

You are not growing comfortable with “good enough.”

You are moving forward.

A few days ago, I was with three of the many amazing homeschool mommas in my “circle” and we were all sharing of our struggles with our struggling readers. WE WERE ALL SHARING … as in, we all have one, myself included. A common theme poured out from our hearts … a desire to unlock the mystery of words for our struggling ones … to see the black-and-white words bring forth the color that only a well-written story can.

But, as we all sat there reflecting on our four little ones caught somewhere between the “I can’t” and the “I can,” I reminded them of one simple truth that I’ve learned after teaching dozens and dozens and dozens of kids how to read …

they will ALL eventually be readers.

In the same way that some toddlers potty train overnight while others take months and even years, readers blossom on their own good time. I don’t know of a single adult … of sound body, that is … who still wears training pants. Looking back at any “when will he/she ever have an accident-free day” thoughts I may have had, I have to chuckle. Did I really think that I would still be diapering an 18-year-old? It sounds silly in hindsight, but I think there were moments that I had stamped this as “fact” in my struggling-to-potty-train-this-child mind.

I see how foolish I was now. I also see that the TRUTH that all kids eventually “get it” applies to reading as well.

Allow me to let you in on a little secret that the “real” teachers don’t want you to know …
they have struggling readers too.

When I was in the classroom … especially that one lovely year when I stared straight into a sea of six-year-old faces all anxiously awaiting their turn to cross the great divide between those who can read and those who can’t … I did everything I could to forge readers. EVERYTHING. For most of my students, it was the natural “next step” .. .reading came easy.

But for others … for a select few … it did not.
It was a struggle.
For them.
For me.

You see, even if your child had one of those “real” teachers teaching them to read, they would probably still struggle. Why? Because God has given us all different strengths and weaknesses. Just as I cannot necessarily take the credit for my son’s ability to paint like a budding Picasso, I also can’t take the blame for his slow-and-steady start to reading. It was how he was created.

Here’s another secret.
Those little doe-eyed six-year-olds of the “lovely year” have all grown up now. They just began their first year of college. (Yep, I’m THAT old.) And do you know what? They can all read. All of them.

You see, the REAL truth … the truth that those “real” teachers don’t want to tell you … the truth that you sometimes forget yourself, is that education is not a sprint, it’s a marathon. It’s not about who can get to the finish line FIRST. It’s about the journey along the way.

So, momma with the struggling reader, let me cup your cheeks and lift your chin and remind you that your child WILL learn to read. Just keep struggling. Just keep moving forward. The forward motion of your struggling reader might seem slightly slower than some, but ANY forward motion moves one forward.


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Jamie Erickson
Jamie Erickson is a BIG CITY SOUTHERN momma of five blessings livin', lovin', and learnin' in a small "Mayberry-esque" northern town.  She blogs about their homeschooling journey at The Unlikely Homeschool. You can also catch up with Jamie on Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, and YouTube.