Homeschooling and learning to read

I have three boys that have come up through my "home school."  Ben was my first. 

In the beginning, I was idealistic.  I loved to read.  My husband is quite literate.  We are both college graduates.  Our son would learn to read and I would teach him.

We started the learning process when he was four years old.  We taped flash cards to items all over the house.  Magnetic letters on the fridge.  Reading lessons.  This would be fun.  Fun for me and fun for Ben.

Except it wasn't.  He didn't get it.  He didn't get it at four.  And I would be mean.  I would.  He would cry.  Sometimes I would cry, but we pushed through.  But, he didn't get it at five.  He kind of started to get it at six. 

Now, he loved to be read to.  LOVED IT.  But read, no.

I'd like to tell you that at 12, now...now he loves to read.  No.  He doesn't.  He struggles with reading.  He drops words.  Can.  Not.  Spell.  Even words that he's seen multiple times over the course of his schooling life...can't spell.  Take "was" for example.  The word "was" he's been seeing in books, on flash cards, in everyday life forever.

"Ben."

"Yes?"

"How do you spell "was"?

"Ummmm.  W-u-z?"

Absolutely frustrating.

Ok.  I know you're going to say that he may have some dyslexia.  Yes.  He knows this and we have changed a lot of things since those first few years of workbooks which he could not read.  Lots of review.  Lots of going back over the things that he's learned.  Attaching words to pictures instead of attempting phonics.  Have you ever tried to teach phonics?  Really?  The English language is HARD.  Often has arbitrary rules.  

Don't get me started on that thing at the end of the sentence.  Yea that thing.  He forgets it.  So fun.

Ok, so that's the story of Ben and reading.  Lots of angst and tough days and nights.  Now, Sam.

Sam started learning to read with Reading Eggs.  Ben was already using this online course as a review so I thought I'd let Sam enjoy as well.  No pressure.  Just consistency really.  This was during a big home remodel in 2010.  Formal sit down book work was not working for us at the time.  

Once the remodel was over, it was time to really get started on school again.  Sam started using the first grade curriculum which was for his age.  I wasn't going to push him like I did Ben and potentially make things worse.  We were gonna take our time.

One month in Sam doesn't want to read his phonics book.  "It's boring," he says.  Okay, I think.  What now?

So, I print out a list of "words to know" by grade level and start Sam reading out loud.  He reads all of the first grade list, the second grade list, most of the third grade list and finally gets stumped around fourth grade.

I just look at him.  Could it be this easy?  Yep.  He just understands letters in groups much better than his older brother.

And what about the other one? 

Well, we're still working on him.  It's definitely not coming to him like it did to Sam, but I also don't see the angst that I saw with Ben.  And he's doing Reading Eggs and enjoying it.

Oh, the dreams we have and the ways our children circumvent them by just being themselves.