And since I know some of you are experienced homeschoolers, and others are experienced parents, and others have a wealth of life experience upon which to draw, I'm hoping you can give me insight here.
Rhys is, you see, The Boy Who Will Not Read.
Not in the "not a bookish kind of kid" way. He loves books. He pages through them all the time, loves to be read to, falls asleep with a Calvin & Hobbes volume or a Lego catalog or the Compact Encyclopedia of Cats clutched in his grubby little mitts every night.
Not in the "reading makes no sense to me" way. He seems to actually enjoy reading to us on occasion, as long as it's a book he feels comfortable reading. And at this point, after seven full years of being read to pretty much constantly and two years of official-ish reading instruction, he is still only comfortable reading Bob Books, the Elephant and Piggie series and Go, Dog. Go! (Yes. Go, Dog. Go! Still.) But he will not even attempt reading anything to us when he doesn't feel that he can get every word right on the first try. (Except when a new Elephant and Piggie book comes out. Then he will gladly stumble, guess, contextualize and otherwise plow his way through the whole book, often pronouncing words on the first try--such as "surprise" or "lunchtime"--that I am a little astonished that he recognizes.)
And sometimes--OK, a lot of the time--I have a sneaking suspicion that he can read a lot more than he lets on. Like the other day, when he'd been silently absorbed in a Tintin book for about an hour and suddenly looked up and asked "What does C-H-A-N-G spell?" I think he had thought it was "change" but couldn't figure out how "change" would work in that context.
All righty, then. So my dilemma here is a little bit twofold:
1. I've pretty much made up my mind that I'm not going to worry too much about the not-technically-reading part. I've read about too many kids, and known too many kids, who were firm non-readers and caused their parents all kinds of frustration and sorrow until one day... poof! it all came together and they were reading fluently seemingly overnight. But still, when I look between reading-at-four Fisher powering his way through an Osprey military manual on Albatros aircraft and tripping-over-long-vowels Rhys, I get a little freaked out despite myself. So... stories? reassurances? recriminations?
2. This is really the part where I'm hoping for some feedback. Just because Rhys is reading at an early first-grade level doesn't mean he has an early first-grade level understanding. I think it must be pretty darn common for kids to have a higher receptive literacy than active literacy level. (Those are probably technical terms that I'm getting wrong. What I mean is that he can easily understand fiction or nonfiction that's read to him even when that material is on a middle- or high-school level.) So, if you've homeschooled in the same situation, how have you dealt with subjects such as science or history or math that can be pretty darn boring if dumbed down to a low reading level? Should I just try reading the material to Rhys and having him dictate responses where necessary? Is this where I should hold my nose and jump into the whole Charlotte Mason "narration" cult? Or should we cut out all that unnecessary sciencey fiddle-faddle altogether and just concentrate on getting this kid reading for reals? (Ha ha. Like I would ever do that. I'd go read his assignments to him all the way through college first.)
Tomorrow, or perhaps some other day, or perhaps never: a follow-up post on Fisher and how he's giving me fits of a whole different sort.