Awakening – Letting Children Develop at Their Own Pace
This summer, I discovered something new in our yard — a beautiful, yellow lily with a burgundy center. In the decade that we’ve lived in this house, it has never bloomed before. About a week later, a solid yellow lily appeared in another part of the yard. A friend had given me some flower bulbs two or three years ago, and I planted them in both of these locations. After the first summer had come and gone without anything appearing, I gave up hope on them, but they had been alive in the earth all along. My husband thinks they came up now because our neighbor cut some trees down and they are getting more sunlight. Whatever the case, they apparently needed time and the right conditions to bloom, and this is their year.
Not long after this, another miracle occurred, my son, who is seven, turned to me and said, “Mom, I’ve been noticing something lately. I know how to read now.”
I have been trying to teach him to read for about the same length of time that those bulbs have been underground, and until recently, the fruits of my labor have not seemed very productive.
When I decided to homeschool him, a veteran homeschool mom told me, “Don’t worry if he is slow to read. Several of my children have been, but they all got it eventually.” I nodded and smiled, thinking that I didn’t need to worry about that. After all, I could read at age three, and my two older children, who had gone to school, were reading in first grade. Why should he be any different?
When we began his phonics instruction in kindergarten, he was making good progress until he actually had to start blending into words the isolated sounds that he’d learned. No matter what I tried, he just could not “hear” the blend. I was set on following the curriculum to the letter, and he was getting frustrated by the amount of practice that was required by each lesson. By the time he was able to blend, he had developed a dread of reading and had a lack of confidence in his ability, no matter how much I
tried to encourage him. To make matters worse, a friend of mine noticed his inability to read and began to question me about it, periodically suggesting that I ought to put him in public school, which made me feel even more defeated.
When he reached second grade, I knew that I needed to try something different. Some days we did a lesson out of the phonics book, and on alternate days, we used a vintage primer that he enjoyed and felt less intimidated reading. His sister was beginning kindergarten, and she quickly began to catch up to him. When he realized this, an internal motivation emerged from him not to let her out-do him. His cooperation improved, but he still needed to sound everything out slowly, letter by letter.
I prayed for a breakthrough and continued to have him practice through the summer with some easy readers. One day, I noticed that he was beginning to finally see what some of the words were at first sight, without having to sound them out. Now, the day had come when he realized what that meant. He was finally a reader.
I should have listened to that mom years ago when she tried to impart some wisdom from her own experience. Children develop at their own pace. Rather than wasting time worrying or letting my pride be injured that my son wasn’t doing something at the same rate that other children are, I should have just turned my cares over to God and had confidence that he would bloom when the time was right. Just like the lilies in my garden, it was a lovely surprise when it happened.
Heather Eberlin is a married mother of four children, ranging in age from six to twenty-five. She is currently homeschooling her two youngest children and has felt called to share her journey in order to encourage others. She in an amateur gardener who is amazed at the things that God’s creation reveals when you take the time to pay attention to it. You can follow her at Musings from My Garden.