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Son Can Read Flash Cards, but Not Books

Homeschooling Expert Advice from Isabel Shaw

Q: My four-year-old son started reading about seven months ago. He loves to practice reading with word cards I've made for him, and he'll remind me if I've forgotten to work with him. We review some words he knows, and I introduce a few new ones each time. I mix up the order of the cards so he won't be able to memorize them.

He is able to sound out all the words on these cards proficiently, but when the same words are in a beginning reader book, he gets very frustrated and insists I read the book to him. I've tried reading most of the book to him and asking him to read one or two of the words on the page, but he isn't happy with this arrangement either!

How can I get him to realize that there is no difference between reading the words on the cards and the same words in the books? Will his interest in reading words in books and not just on cards come as he gains proficiency? Please help!

A: Wow — it sounds like you have an amazing little boy! It also sounds like you are doing a wonderful job helping him get a jump-start on his learning. However, be careful not to push him too much. Remember he is only four years old. His recognition and sounding-out ability is remarkable for a boy his age. But he may not be ready to read, even though he is able to work with the cards. Right now he is enjoying this "game" you have created. Learning to read is a process, and he appears to be way ahead of schedule. A more important consideration, however, is keeping him motivated and helping him see reading as a pleasurable pastime, not a race or an activity that disappoints mom because he's not getting it fast enough.

Continue to read to him, and don't bother pointing out the words. My daughters hated it when I pointed to words while I read, and quite firmly asked me to stop. Don't be afraid to read books geared for older children. Enjoying great books together is a vital part of creating kids who love to read. For more helpful advice, read Helping Your Homeschooler Learn to Read.

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Isabel Shaw is a freelance writer and homeschooling mom of 15 years. She and her husband Ray homeschool their two daughters, Jessica and Amanda. Besides being a contributor to FamilyEducation.com, Shaw has written for Home Education Magazine, The Link, Homeschooling Horizons Magazine, The Homeschool Gazette, and other publications.


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