Expert Iconexpert advice MORE

Focusing on Reading

Homeschooling Expert Advice from Isabel Shaw

Q: I am at my wits' end. Our six-year-old is having trouble paying attention. Even when she was in public school we received notes about this problem. She can't sit still and is constantly moving. She is smart and does well in math and science, but when it comes to reading, she has trouble. We are patient with her, but she says she doesn't want to read -- that it's too hard. What is wrong here?

A: My daughter was not ready to read at six and even seven years old. I focused my energy on reading aloud to her every day. She also liked to listen to books on tape. We would go to the library each week and return with a small shopping bag full of books. We stayed away from "school-type" books and, instead, gathered books on whatever appealed to her that day -- rainbows, spiders, soccer, monkeys, etc. As she approached her eighth birthday, she began to read and within a few months, she was reading everything in sight.

In a traditional school setting, every child is expected to learn the same thing at the same time. With 25 or more children in a classroom, there is no time to focus on individual learning styles and developmental differences. Fortunately, as a homeschooler, you do not have to follow this path. If reading is too hard for her right now, focus your energies elsewhere. Or perhaps the curriculum or method you're using is not the best one for your daughter. If she is an active, hands-on learner and you are relying on textbook learning, you're going to run into problems.

It is not uncommon for my daughter (also very active) to dance around the room while I read to her. Sitting still and doing paperwork is almost painful for her, but she thrives on games and hands-on activities. We write our multiplication facts with a marker on a ball and toss it back and forth. You have to answer the problem under your thumb. We bake cookies and double the recipe. Cooking, shopping, building with Legos -- all of these day-to-day activities present learning opportunities. If she is having a hard time (i.e., she is bored or antsy) with something, step back and ask yourself if she really needs to know this right now. Most of the time the answer is no. If it is something important, recognize your current teaching method is not working, and find a way to present the material in a more interesting, appealing manner.

More on: Expert Advice

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, Shaw has written for Home Education Magazine, The Link, Homeschooling Horizons Magazine, The Homeschool Gazette, and other publications.

Please note: This "Expert Advice" area of should be used for general information purposes only. Advice given here is not intended to provide a basis for action in particular circumstances without consideration by a competent professional. Before using this Expert Advice area, please review our General and Medical Disclaimers.


8 Epic Emoji-Themed Crafts, Activities & Recipes
Check out the best emoji crafts, activities, and recipes! They're perfect for an emoji-themed birthday party or anytime you need DIY (and screen-free!) summer activities for kids, tweens, and teens.

Find Today's Newest & Best Children's Books
Looking for newly released books for your child? Try our Book Finder tool to search for new books by age, type, and theme!

10 Free Summer Learning Worksheets
Print these free printables for preschoolers and kindergarteners to help your child's mind stay sharp until September!

Ready for Kindergarten?
Try our award-winning Kindergarten Readiness app! This easy-to-use checklist comes with games and activities to help your child build essential skills for kindergarten. Download the Kindergarten Readiness app today!

stay connected

Sign up for our free email newsletters and receive the latest advice and information on all things parenting.

Enter your email address to sign up or manage your account.

Facebook icon Facebook icon Follow Us on Pinterest

editor’s picks