When it comes to homeschool stereotypes, one of the most common is the notion that all homeschoolers love to read. I’ll have to admit that sometimes even as a home educator myself, I often find myself assuming it’s true, as well.
But it isn’t. I’m here to tell you today that not all homeschooled kids enjoy reading- and that’s okay. What you do want to be careful of, though, is pushing your kids to hate reading.
And it’s a lot easier to do than you might think, so consider these things carefully:
7 Easy Ways to Make Your Kids Hate Reading
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1. Pushing them to read before they’re ready.
I put this reason first because I truly believe this is the biggest culprit when it comes to kids who hate reading. I place a large amount of blame on our present-day society for this. Everywhere you go, you see signs and hear advertisements pushing for early literacy and emphasizing the “importance” of preschool, but this is nothing more than educational propaganda. (Think about it. Everyone you hear espousing the importance of early childhood education has some sort of stake in it- usually a financial stake or job security. Just saying.)
The fact is, kids are individuals, and they develop at their own pace. While one child may be ready to read at 4, another may not be developmentally mature enough until 8.
Does this mean there’s something wrong with the 8-year-old? No! While some children are early readers, others are gifted at sports or some other strength at a young age. Why is one skill assigned more value than the other?
And while you may read “studies” that find that kids who read later are more likely to end up in jail or some other ridiculous scare tactic, don’t believe it! Again, money talks. Don’t fall for it.
When my oldest son was 8, his teacher and some other faculty members met with me and said they wanted to hold him back because he “wasn’t reading where he should be.” I refused. Two years later, he was being tested for the gifted and talented program.
Again, when your child learns to read has no bearing on their intelligence.
So…if your child is showing signs that they’re not interested or not ready to read, let them wait a while. Pushing children to master a skill they’re not ready for will only create negative feelings about it.
Now you know why so many kids hate reading.
2. Not letting them learn at their own pace.
This is related to #1. If your child has shown signs of being ready to read, be very wary of expecting them to keep up with your chosen curriculum exactly as the teacher’s manual says they should. If your child needs to spend three days on one lesson, let them. If they want to speed through four lessons in one day, go for it. There is no such thing as Curriculum Police, so don’t worry about them knocking at your door. 😛
Requiring your child to learn to read at a pace that is too slow or too quick for them is guaranteed to result in frustration- theirs and yours!
3. Not letting them have a say in what they read.
Look, I’m a homeschool mom. I get it. There are so many quality books out there for your kids to read and not enough time, right? So I’m not saying that assigned reading is all bad. What I am saying is, does all of their reading have to be assigned? Would it hurt for them to choose their own books from time to time- dare I say much of the time? And would it be the end of the world if they chose Captain Underpants over War Horse?
I’m going to say no.
4. Requiring them to write book reports for every book they read.
Put yourself in their shoes. If you were someone who didn’t particularly enjoy writing (and many kids don’t), would you ever actually be able to get into a book- I mean truly get into it- if you knew what was in store for you when you were finished?
And I’m going to use this opportunity as a plug for notebooking, which is a much more painless way of getting your children to write. 🙂
5. Putting more value on reading than their own interests.
There are few things that can breed more bitterness in a child than when you consider one thing as being more important than something they have a genuine passion for.
Is reading important? Yes. Is it necessary? Yes.
But that doesn’t mean that your children’s pursuits are any less precious. Your child’s hobbies are important to them, so they should be important to you. Not only can they be a stepping stone for your children to learn why reading is necessary, but they can become the driving force behind who your child becomes one day.
6. Expecting too much of them.
This can be a result of the dreaded homeschool comparison bug that gets us from time to time. Just because someone else’s homeschooled daughter read 53 books in one month doesn’t mean yours has to.
I would rather have my kids read five books that they’re genuinely interested in than 50 books they barely skimmed through.
How about you?
7. Using reading as a punishment.
Oh, this one gets to me. Why do so many people use reading as a punishment?
Punishment is associated with negative feelings, is it not? So why would we purposely do that with reading? Of course a child who’s been forced to read over and over again as a discipline is going to hate it. It’s common sense! (I feel the same way about assigning Bible verses to copy as punishment, but that’s another post altogether!)
While reading and homeschooling seem like they should go hand in hand, the truth is that it doesn’t always turn out that way. The best thing you can do as a homeschooling parent is to encourage your kids, and help them learn to enjoy reading by not sabotaging it.
And if reading never ends up being something your kids choose to do in their free time? That’s perfectly fine. Remind yourself to embrace what your kids do like to do because, like it or not, there are other ways to learn.