Published here with permission from The MOORE REPORT INTERNATIONAL - November/December 2002

The Moore Foundation, Box 1, Camas, WA 98607

Questions and Answers

"First Year Homeschooling Mom Asks Questions"

by Ellen Dana

Q. This is my first year homeschooling, and we are almost through the first semester. My problem is this: My son is not reading yet. My husband is very upset and is thinking it is my fault and that we should put our son back into school for the second semester. I thought that our son was doing well, because he was finally starting to get interested in reading again after several weeks of not wanting to at all. He was burned out from the beginning of the school year when I was forcing him to read and do 10-15 vocabulary words each week. Now I spend more time reading to him.

I have read several of the Moore's books including Better Late Than Early, and I agree with what was written. I see our son becoming discouraged when I force him past his limitations. How do I know that I'm not neglecting our son's education by doing things that may not seem like school but where our son is learning? Should I force him to read and write out words even though he is struggling so hard? Sincerely, First Year Homeschooling Mom.

A. Dear First Year Homeschooling Mom,

Since you've read Better Late Than Early, you realize that what the research shows is that little children under 8 or even 10 should not be forced to learn to read--or forced in any of the "skill subjects," for that matter. It does not really matter what others may think; what matters is that the research continues to be proven to us time after time, after time. Yes, there is a sequence to teaching first graders, and by November many of them are bursting into the reading process. Unfortunately for the little boys whose heads are busy with the creative skills of inventing, building, and the like, their left brain abilities are not yet really "in gear" for the reading game. We catalog more than one grown man who describes the horror of his early education and how it finally all "came together" for him when he was 8, 10 and sometimes even 12! Boys simply mature later than girls and we have to expect that it won't alwasy appear that they are doing well on the usual "school agenda." You will have to choose between burning out a young, immature and delicate nervous system (incomplete myelin sheaths yet on many of the nerves!) and pleasing others, or encouraging him in what he is able and ready to do and thus helping him to love learning the rest of his life.

You can pour on the science experiments; study nature out where it grows, or bring it in the house in jars, aquariums and flowerpots; help him memorize Scripture, and read lots of books about famous people; look up on the globe or map where the last two big earthquakes were--does he know about those? Record your field trips with phots and let him do the captions: yes it's okay to take his dictation. That's his language production. He can do the actual writing later. Make sure he does something in conjunction with reading the books, like building a log cabin when you read about Abraham Lincoln, or helping with Thanksgiving dinner when you read about Pilgrims. Get the Moore Formula Manual from the Moore Foundation and notice the pages called Ways We Learn and Show What We Know; they contain many examples. Reading one book after the other without any activity in conjunction with it can produce a bookworm who wants to do nothing but read. And contrary to popular belief, that is NOT good for the child, as it breeds addiction!

Do you want your child to learn to be a diligent student? Then teach him to do physical work with all diligence! Sing as you work and include him in the dishes, cooking, shopping, yard work and whatever you can that will allow his little hands to be busy carrying out a responsibility and sticking to it until it's done. You will thus be helping him to do school work diligently as he matures to that place. Teaching at this state of his life is so easy, because you merely read to him, play games with him, include him in your responsibilites and watch him mature into his skills. That's much more fun than trying to drag an unwilling child through a process he is unable as yet to handle. Your teaching ability has very little to do with all this; being a good mother, does! What children can do when they are six, seven and eight has to do with the way God made them, how fast they are maturing, and what their interests are. Listen and watch him; you will learn a lot.

I have a son like yours, who didn't read early. Today he works with a number of architects as a draftsman with his own private business and does beautiful work; and yes, he finally got to the place where reading a book is not a chore, but not at the age that people thought he should. But that did not bother any of us; we could see his talents even as a child that later culminated in his inventions and business ability. We have to look at children and stop treating them as a herd of calves to be ground up and the meat put through a grinder all coming out like same-size sausages (as Dr. Moore puts it!) I'm glad that I allowed my children to develop their own unique talents.

My reading materials [listed at the end of the article] are available at Moore Academy. GameWay is especially helpful since it uses not on the auditory sense, but also visual and kinesthetic. Reading Handbook for Parents was written for you and your family. It will give you many things to do besides drilling him on reading that he is not ready for. Also, be sure to ask Moore Academy for the paper, When Education Becomes Abuse.

Books by Ellen Dana: GameWay to Phonics and Reading, Learning to Read From Nature's Pages, Shared Reader-Psalms and Reading Handbook for Parents