“I can read, can’t I, Amy?”

My niece stopped in the middle of her reading page to look up at me and whisper, “I can read, can’t I, Amy?” She has been pretending to read for a year or so now, but the realization that she was actually reading hit her all at once. For me, it was one of those great moments in homeschooling. While teaching my son to read, I pushed him so hard to read that he began to hate it. I pushed him through seven or eight of the A Beka first grade readers before he even turned six, and we never read anything twice! The good thing is, he is really beginning to like reading now. I even “catch” him reading for pleasure once in a while (but not often enough). However, that was a long, frustrating road, so I’m using a different strategy this time.

My niece starts at the beginning of her little six-page kindergarten reader every Monday through Wednesday (those are the only days I have her). I have her read until her attention dwindles, and then we move on to something else. It’s been working! Each day she goes a little further without becoming bored. Tuesday she finished the entire book, and yesterday we started a new one. Her excitement bubbles out into the room, and some of it rubs off on me. My son has always been a pretty quick study, but his attention span is extremely short. It’s amazing how different the kids are, and yet they are both so fun to teach!

I noticed that both children devised different ways of keeping track of things they had counted. My son drew lines from item to item as he counted in his math book. My niece colors or writes a number on each item. It’s so interesting that they both realized they needed a way to keep track, and made up their own systems. Sometimes I wonder if we are as smart as our own children!

BTW, my son is getting into larger addition and subtraction problems and beginning multiplication. How do you all teach math facts? Do you use flashcards, speed sheets, rote memorization, or do your children just figure out the answers every time and eventually get faster? I didn’t memorize anything by rote while being homeschooled, but I went to a Christian school in 3rd grade and learned my multiplication tables by saying them aloud with the entire class every day. I just don’t know what to do…help!

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