Contributor Amida writes for Journey into Unschooling. She didn't read fluently until she was seven but ended up with a degree in English. One of the first goals I had in homeschooling was to teach my child to read. As a first-time homeschooler (and mom), I was excited, ambitious, and determined. Before my son turned one, I had amassed an impressive collection of classic and bestseller children's books.
I read Horton Hatches the Egg in the middle of the night while breastfeeding. I sang Mother Goose rhymes throughout the day and read Green Eggs and Ham and The Little Engine That Could every single night. I made a flannel board and decorated it with a colorful felt alphabet and coconut tree ala Chicka Chicka Boom Boom.
My refrigerator was covered with magnetic letters and, at one point, I even had flashcards taped on all the furniture. It was, I admit, over the top and looking back, borderline obsessive. But my son did learn to read at three and by the time he hit kindergarten, he was already way beyond grade level.
By my second child, I had calmed down considerably. I did continue to read to him and introduced the same phonics lessons, but I was definitely not as compulsive as before. And I waited until he was five to start. Still, after some intense practice, he "caught up" one magical summer and was reading at grade level by the time he started school again in the fall.
Then my third child, a girl, came along.
By now, I was busy with two other school kids, so many times, she was left alone to just be. I had also evolved in my homeschooling, so I was more relaxed and tinkering with a more natural approach to learning. Every now and then, I'd introduce her to reading through computer games, phonics, and BOB books.