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7 Ways to Engage Your Reluctant Reader

I have so many childhood memories curled up reading a book. From a young age, I always had a book in my hand. It was part of who I was. A reader. Fast forward a few years and both of my girls are the same way. When my son was born, I never considered the fact that he may not be the same. However, I am quickly realizing he is more like his non-reader father, and less like his literature-loving mom.

So, what does this mean for us? And our homeschool? I asked myself this question many times over the past year. I wanted to engage him, but not push him. Homeschooling a reluctant reader has been new for me, but there are a few things I have tried that seem to have worked wonders.

Don’t Push What Doesn’t Work

When we started this school year, I had full intentions of teaching my boy the exact same way I taught my girls. I had a literature based program. I had Hooked on Phonics. This is what I knew. I never considered another option.

However, I realized early on that neither program would work for my boy. I was forced to find something else. I was forced to teach a way that I hadn’t taught before. This was hard. BUT, it was necessary.

If you have a reluctant reader, do NOT push them. Don’t break their spirit. Don’t kill their love for learning. Don’t push what doesn’t work.

Are you homeschooling a reluctant reader? Not sure how to fully engage your reluctant reader? Don't give up! Here are some tips that can help you and your reluctant reader.

Be Flexible

Instead, of pushing methods we are used to, we need to be flexible. Research other methods and programs. Talk to other moms who have been where you are.When we have multiple kids there is NO guarantee that what works for one, will work for the others.

I have years of curriculum on our shelves from homeschooling my girls. Many of these are not going to work for my reluctant reader. But, I am realizing that flexibility is something that I am going to have to get used to.

We have to be willing to change and meet our child where they are. This is one of the benefits of homeschooling!

 Allow Them to Choose the Books

Again, I have shelves and shelves of beautiful books. Classics. That I loved to read with my girls. I am not so sure my reluctant reader will ever enjoy some of these books like my girls did. BUT, he does enjoy Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Scooby Do. Are these my picks? NO. But, if they are what he is willing to read, I want to encourage him to actually PICK up a book.

Is it going to be the end of the world if your child reads Diary of a Wimpy Kid instead of Shiloh? There was a time when I would have said yes. Now, I am realizing that when it comes to a reluctant reader, I have to be HAPPY that something peeks his interest. NOT worried about whether or not that book would be on a top ten literature list.

“A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies, said Jojen. The man who never reads lives only one.”
George R.R. Martin, A Dance with Dragons

Additional Tips to Engage a Reluctant Reader

The above tips are really the top three I think when it comes to engaging a reluctant reader. However, there are much more ways we as homeschool parents can engage our kids in reading.

Participate in Shared Reading

This is something I have done with all three of my kids. While reading books stop in the middle of a sentence and allow the child to read words that they know. When they are old enough for chapter books take turns reading one page while your child reads the next. This is a great way to share books together and allows our children to hear and read words they may not know while we are with them and able to help.

Don’t Worry About Reading Level

So, your 6th grader wants to check out books in the elementary section? So what! They are READING! Where they are getting the books does not matter. I think we too often times worry about the reading level on top of the book instead of considering the child who is behind it. Don’t limit your child to where you think their reading level is.

Have Books Available

In order for your child to read, he must have books on hand. Have them available. Get them a library card. Check books out for them, even if they are not interested. The key is to have books available each and every day.

Don’t Underestimate Technology

So, funny story, I tried Hooked on Phonics with my son earlier this year. It was a NIGHTMARE. He wasn’t the least bit interested at all. So, we tried sight words instead. And, it worked. Which was fine. Then, someone told me about the Hooked on Phonics App. I downloaded it, and guess what? He LOVES it! He has picked up on reading quicker than I ever imagined.

Bottom line? Don’t underestimate technology. If your child loves apps, let them read on a kindle. If they would rather play games, teach them to read with a reading app instead of a reading curriculum.  Our kids are living in a different world, and we have to be able to meet them where they learn.

These are just a few ways I have found to encourage a love for reading and to engage my reluctant reader. Remember parents, if something doesn’t work, keep trying. Eventually, you will find a method that works for your child. He will READ. Be flexible. Encourage. And don’t give up!


Misty Bailey is a work at home homeschool mom.  She loves helping new homeschoolers and has a Homeschool 101 eBook for those getting started. She shares everyday tips and encouragement for the homeschool mom on her blog Joy in the Journey.

5 Common Mistakes First Timers Make at a Homeschool Convention

Homeschool convention season is here and we are gearing up for our Southeast Homeschool Expo as we speak. This will be my first time speaking at the Southeast Homeschool Expo and I can’t wait!  My first homeschool convention was an experience in itself, after homeschooling for awhile you’d think I would have been prepared for my first convention experience. I wasn’t. And I think very few first timers are.  In fact, I made quite a few homeschool convention mistakes. So, today, learn from my experience!

I think very few first-time homeschool convention attendees are not prepared. In fact, I made quite a few homeschool convention mistakes. So, today, learn from my experience!

Trying to Hear ALL the Speakers

I was SO excited to hear so many fabulous speakers at my first homeschool convention. However, reality hit shortly after I arrived. I had my ideal schedule packed back to back with little thought to food, fellowship or shopping. I ended up missing a few that I really wanted to hear because I had planned poorly.

I highly recommend only planning on hearing 2-3 speakers a day. Pick three topics you want to learn more about and find one speaker on each. Spend the rest of the time resting, shopping, or fellowshipping with other homeschool moms. Oh, and eating, if not you will crash by the end of the day starving and wondering where your time went.

Buying on the first day

If you plan on being at the homeschool convention more than one day do NOT buy the first day. I was so excited when I went and SO sure I knew what I wanted to buy that I spent all my money the first day at exhibitors I was familiar with. On the second day when I browsed, I realized there was more out there than I knew about, AND I had maybe purchased prematurely.

Here’s the thing, there may be curriculum you LOVE, but give other vendors a shot to gain your interest. If not, you may wonder what else is out there and have NO clue because you never shopped around. If you wait and hit your favorites last you may be happier with your purchases because you will KNOW that you TRULY shopped around and found the materials PERFECT for your family. Not second guessing yourself like I did…

Not having a way to pack my purchases

Guys, I swear I was the ONLY homeschool mom at the convention without something on wheels.  Seriously. Instead, I was lugging a big old bag that about broke my arm. I lost feeling in it after the first day. If you don’t want to purchase a rolling cart, consider bringing a carry on size suitcase with wheels. This will work the same way, and you probably have one lying around your house. The only downside is that you have to open it each time you want to access it.

Losing my list

Before attending the convention I made a list of all the vendors I wanted to see as well as my budget for each item I needed to purchase. I then proceeded to lose my list the first day of the convention.  This year, I will have a paper list and then I will take a picture of it in case I lose my list again.

You could also type out your list in the note section of your phone, make a copy, or write it down in more than one place. Bottom line is to have a backup version of your list in some way. This also helps in case you forget your copy in the hotel room or at home :)

Budgeting poorly

I budgeted ahead of time for purchases I knew I was going to make. I left the convention WAY over budget because I honestly budgeted pretty poorly. I did not take into consideration the following things:

  • The cost of convention food (the prices are WAY higher than normal restaurants). Consider doubling the budget for food before you attend OR pack lunch and snacks in a cooler. Just remember whatever you pack you will have to carry around or allow for time to go back to your room and eat (if you are staying on site).
  • Parking, many parking garages charge per day. Some hotels offer free parking, but keep in mind you may have to walk a few blocks (with your purchases) if you do not stay on site.
  • Impulse buys. Yes, I know we shouldn’t budget for these right? But in reality, you will buy a few items on impulse. Consider giving yourself a little wiggle room for that item you have NEVER seen before that you KNOW your kids will love. For me, it was a human anatomy puzzle (that is still in the plastic box unopened) and Little House on the Prairie Paper Dolls (that have been played with a LOT!).

So, will I be seeing you at the homeschool expo? I hope so! And, if it is your FIRST convention I hope sharing my homeschool convention mistakes will help YOU prepare better before you arrive!


Misty Bailey is a work at home homeschool mom.  She loves helping new homeschoolers and has a Homeschool 101 eBook for those getting started. She shares everyday tips and encouragement for the homeschool mom on her blog Joy in the Journey.

 

Dr. Kathy Koch

Dr. Kathy Koch (cook), the Founder and President of Celebrate Kids, Inc., based in Fort Worth, TX, has influenced thousands of parents, teachers, and children in 30 countries through keynote messages, seminars, chapels, and other events. Among other groups, she is a featured speaker for the Great Homeschool Conventions and Hearts at Home. Her practical, relevant, results-oriented concepts and engaging, honoring, and humorous speaking style draw enthusiastic reviews from children, teens, parents, and educators. They leave her events armed with new beliefs, attitudes, practical tools, and increased hope to make appropriate changes, establish healthy relationships, and increase success in family, life, and school.

She is also a popular guest on Focus on the Family radio and other radio talk-shows. She is an author of six books including four published by Moody. Her newest two are 8 Great Smarts: Discover and Nurture Your Child’s Intelligences and Screens and Teens: Connecting with Our Kids in a Wireless World.

Dr. Kathy earned a Ph.D. in reading and educational psychology from Purdue University. She was a tenured associate professor of education at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay, a teacher of second graders, a middle school coach, and a school board member prior to becoming a full-time conference and keynote speaker in 1991. She has loved Jesus for years and her faith and desire to serve and glorify God is the foundation of her ministry.

5 Things Your Homeschool Needs

As homeschoolers, we are bombarded on a regular basis by things experts believe we need. Even well-meaning friends may share items they think our homeschool can’t survive without. But, in reality, how much of that do we really NEED? The answer is probably very little. However, I do believe there are five things your homeschool needs. And, chances are you already have these or have the means to provide them!

 How much does your homeschool need? The answer is probably very little. There are five things your homeschool need s. And, chances are you already have these or have the means to provide them!

Your Homeschool Needs Patience

As a homeschool mom, you do need patience. Now, can you homeschool without it? Of course! Patience is one of those things that grow as we become more accustomed to our homeschool role. Patience when children may not grasp a concept the first time, patience when the kids take a little longer than we’d like while they put on their shoes. Will we lose our patience sometimes? Yes! But, the key is to grow in this area, and the more we practice it the more our homeschool will thrive.

Flexibility

Gone are the days of school starting at 8 am and ending at 3. Homeschool parents can be flexible in their homeschool schedule, and we need to be! Our kids may need a little extra sleep one day or may need more time in a subject than usual. That is where flexibility comes in! Through the years I have realized that flexibility is key to homeschool success. Gone are the days where I act like a rigid taskmaster. Our kids will not thrive in this environment and neither will we.

Structure 

While we do need flexibility we also need some sort of structure in our days. This will look different from home to home.  Find a routine or schedule that works for you and structure your days to fit the needs of you and your family. This could mean starting school at 9, or it could mean waiting until noon. It may include completing three subjects a day or it may mean five. HOW you structure your days isn’t as important as having some structure to your homeschool day. But, the bottom line is kids do better with a flexible routine to their days, and moms do too!

Socialization

As a homeschool mom you need homeschool friends, and your kids do too! Find a local homeschool group or co-op where you and your kids can meet friends. If you have homeschool friends make sure to take the time to meet up with them on a regular basis. Getting out for a day of socialization needs to happen for the sanity of your kids and you!

Joy

Joy is a choice and chances are your homeschool needs more of it! Laughter, fun, and energy are all things that can bring joy to our lives and to our homeschool. When things go south (and believe me they will) make the choice to not blow up, relax, find a way to laugh. In the process, your kids will remember more joy filled days than angry ones.

None of the above items will cost you a penny, yet your homeschool will thrive with them! As a homeschool parent there are many material items we may need, but the above, the real ones are the ones that will last in the memories of our kids. Which of these does your homeschool need more of?


Misty Bailey and her husband have been married for over a decade and have three beautiful children. She shares her struggles with time management, becoming unglued, homeschooling and finding joy in the everyday moments of her blog Joy in the Journey.

5 Ways to Celebrate the End of the Homeschool Year

We’ve made it! Well, at least most of you all have made it, to the end of the homeschool year! We are year round schooling this year, so our official last day is the end of June. We are psyched and ready to begin our summer vacation!

One thing I try to do each year with my kids is celebrating the end of the homeschool year. How we do this has varied through the years, but the key is to do SOMETHING we don’t do every day and SOMETHING that the kids have been really wanting to do.

Here are 5 ways to celebrate the end of the homeschool year!

The end of the homeschool year is upon us! Why not celebrate the end of the homeschool year by doing something special? Here are 5 great ways to celebrate the end of the homeschool year.

Picnic with Friends

We have an end of the year celebration with our homeschool group each year. Normally this is our official last day of school.  We have had a water day, we have had track and field days, we have had just a picnic and free play. The kids love it because regardless of whether or not there are activities planned they get to spend the whole day playing with their friends.

If your homeschool group doesn’t offer something like this, consider planning one yourself. It takes little to no money, you just need a location and a few friends. Everyone can pack a lunch, bring balls, jump ropes, bubbles, whatever they want and show up! Voila! You’re celebrating the end of the homeschool year.

A Large Homeschool/Educational Purchase

Has there been an item you have wanted for your homeschool or that maybe your kids have been dying to have? Celebrate the end of the year by purchasing it! One year I bought my daughter the whole Magic Tree House series. It was her first year into chapter books and she had been so sick of waiting for the library to get them. Another year we purchased a new book shelf. Maybe you have been wanting a microscope or a computer program. Whatever it may be, consider grabbing it to celebrate the end of the homeschool year!

Go on a Trip

Have the kids been wanting to hit that local zoo, aquarium, water park,  or children’s museum? Do it to celebrate the end of the homeschool year! Most of these places offer great homeschool discounts and you can still count it at as a school day! If you’re not sure what discounts are available for homeschoolers, look on the website of the attraction you want to visit. Find the education section. If nothing is mentioned there, email or call the facility and ask to speak with the education coordinator. They should be able to let you know whether or not there are homeschool discounts available. Most places will let you use the same discounts that public schools receive.

Head out for a Treat! 

What kid doesn’t like ice cream, cake, or another sweet treat? When the books are closed head out for a treat with the kids. My kiddos personal favorite is frozen yogurt. The price keeps us from going there often so they are all three tickled when we actually get to go!

Enjoy the Great Outdoors

Nature hikes, fishing, geocaching, are all great fun and can be done for FREE (in most states kids fish free, check your state guidelines to see if you need a license to fish)! Head out to the great outdoors and celebrate the end of the homeschool year together enjoying the beauty around you.

As we wrap up our school year, let’s celebrate our accomplishments by spending time together as a family. Do something fun, out of the ordinary, and let your kids know how proud you are of them for finishing up another homeschool year! PS: You did a great job this year too!


Misty Bailey is a Christian wife and work at home homeschool mom. She resides with her family in Southern Ohio.  She shares her struggles with time management, becoming unglued, homeschooling and finding joy in the everyday moments on her blog Joy in the Journey.  You can also find her on Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram.

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