My Challenge with Teaching Reading/Phonics

struggle teaching homeschool subjects

Something that holds some people back from homeschooling is the fear that because they aren’t “good at” specific subjects they won’t be able to teach them. With all the resources and tools available, though, you really don’t HAVE to be “good at” every subject you teach! In fact, there are many opportunities for us to learn with our children as well!

I admit, though, I affectionately refer to myself as a “nerd” because, well, if I got a “B” in something that is what I was “bad at.” So I didn’t really have any apprehensions with my ability to educate my children – at least in the aspect of skills and knowledge. Of course, I would say I’m a little more gifted in the aspects of language arts, and it’s definitely what I most enjoyed learning.

Something that I quickly learned, though, is the ease of teaching a subject can have absolutely nothing to do with what would be considered my strengths. In fact, teaching language arts (particularly reading and phonics) has been particularly challenging! I never would have guessed my first struggle teaching homeschool subjects would begin here! I was surprised that I ran into this dilemma! Yet I find myself struggling with it a little each day.

The essence of what I have learned through my personal experience is this: it is challenging teaching my children a subject that is challenging for them but easy for me. That is the root cause of my struggles. Our children are progressing slowly with reading and phonics, but progressing nonetheless. Yet I find myself feeling overwhelmed when they struggle because I KNOW this stuff, and I feel like they should be catching on quickly and progressing more quickly.

In short, I lack patience. I know they have special needs and challenges that are different than my own. Even our daughter who has Sensory Processing Disorder like myself learns in a different way than I do. I need to acknowledge this and be patient. They are learning at the speed that is working FOR THEM. I have to remember it’s about THEM and not ME.

Our oldest son, though, who is on the Autism spectrum has the most challenges. His memory for letters and sounds is a big challenge. The short “e” is a sound he forgets constantly. He could say it 50 times in a row and five minutes later he will ask what sound it makes again. Unfortunately, when he struggles he may yell or cry and can lash out physically on himself, which is also heartbreaking. This adds to my struggles as I work to be encouraging and speak calmly as well as redirect the behavior.

Despite my impatience on the inside, I am careful not to express it when we’re learning. I remind him it’s OK. We all make mistakes. I say that phrase SO many times a day.

I remind all three of our children I am never upset by mistakes, and they don’t need to be upset with themselves either because mistakes are a part of learning. Then I think of the irony because I realize the root of my own struggles with teaching them reading and phonics is that I am upset with myself. I have taken their frustration and blamed myself. I think I need to give myself the grace I give them as well!

Do you struggle teaching homeschool subjects? Is it because it is difficult for you to teach or difficult for your children to learn?

Some other bloggers from the Schoolhouse Review Crew are sharing their stories of their struggle teaching homeschool subjects. Because we all have different struggles for different reasons, I definitely recommend checking them out! You can read them all here or click on the button below!

struggle teaching homeschool subjects

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  1. Alicia Owen says

    It’s kind of funny that you wrote this because I always joke with my husband that I’m going to make him teach math to our daughter when the time comes because it was not my strong subject in school. I’m like you: language arts and English were my thing. Anything above like Algebra 2 and forget it!
    Again, I can’t relate with you on the homeschooling part since Myka is only 1, but I’ve been having a hard time remembering that it is about HER and not ME when it comes to her learning things and how quickly (or slowly, as it may be) that she learns them. I see all these kids her age when I take her to the library that have been walking since before they were 1 and this little girl today (who is a few weeks YOUNGER than my daughter) absolutely amazed me at how many words she could speak…intelligibly. As parents we want the best for our children and can’t help but get a little frustrated or jealous at times when we see other kids of the same age as ours doing “better”. I just have to keep reminding myself that Myka is perfect the way she is, I know she’s smart, and she will do certain things when it’s her time and she feels like it. Some days I wonder if I’m pushing her TOO hard to learn new things. *sigh*
    Sorry for the ramble. The joys of being a parent, eh? 🙂

    • Yes, it does start when they’re babies! I had so many challenges with feeling insecure with our oldest because he was developing so much later than “everyone’s” babies. He didn’t crawl until 9 months, walk until 13 months, and because he is on the Autism spectrum he had developmental delays including a severe speech delay and didn’t really “talk” until he was over age 2 – or potty train until he was almost 4! *Gasp!* lol Our daughter who is 20 months younger was speaking in sentences before he was.

      It has actually helped me, though, to realize each child is unique and develops differently yet when I began this new journey in our lives of educating our children I fell back into those bad habits, and I have to break them all over again!

  2. This is what I’m afraid of. My daughter just turned 4. She knows a lot of her letters but doesn’t match all the sounds yet. I was always good at reading/language arts myself, but I am a little afraid of teaching my kids and not sure how to move on to actual reading.

    • I think if I had started with more of a Phonics approach instead of trying to go straight to more complex blends and sight words, things would have gone a lot smoother. We had to backtrack a little. Now we’re on track again, but we had to “unlearn” some of it first. Some of it is going to be trial and error, but the best advice I can give is go with what you know about your children. Mine weren’t ready for what I was teaching them, but it was “part of the curriculum.” Now I know a boxed curriculum isn’t a good approach for us, but I should have gone with my instincts in the first place!

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