I'm a wife to my "Mr. Right". A momma of five. A maker of slow food and simple living. A collector of memories, a keeper of books, and a champion for books that make memories. An addict who likes my half-and-half with a splash of coffee. A fractured pot transformed by the One Who makes broken things beautiful. I heart homeschooling, brake for libraries, and am glad you're here with me on the journey! Be sure to subscribe to my monthly newsletter. Or, follow along with Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Google +, Youtube, or Pinterest.

Dear Homeschool Momma with a Struggling Reader

Dear Homeschool Momma with a Struggling Reader {The Unlikely Homeschool}

Dear Homeschool Momma with a Struggling Reader, 

If you're anything like me, you've taken full ownership of the struggle. You wear it like a badge of shame...an ugly cloak that veils all the successes of your day. As if it is your fault. As if something you have done or haven't done has crippled your child's ability to ever get it right. You tell yourself, "if only someone else would have taught him how to read..." or "maybe a 'real' teacher would know how to do it better."

But, what you don't know, momma, and what you don't see, is what a dear friend reminded me of recently...a "struggle" shows that you are doing something RIGHT!

Struggle is a verb.
It implies action.
It implies effort.
It implies giving it all you've got.
If you are teaching a struggling reader, it means that together you are RIGHT NOW developing a reader. You are not sitting idly by and watching from the sidelines.

You are not growing comfortable with "good enough."

You are moving forward.

A few days ago, I was with three of the many amazing homeschool mommas in my "circle" and we were all sharing our struggles with our struggling readers. WE WERE ALL SHARING...as in, we all have one, myself included. A common theme poured out from our hearts...a desire to unlock the mystery of words for our struggling ones...to see the black-and-white words bring forth the color that only a well-written story can.
But, as we all sat there reflecting on our four little ones caught somewhere between the "I can't" and the "I can", I reminded them of one simple truth that I've learned after teaching dozens and dozens and dozens of kids how to read...

they will ALL eventually be readers.

In the same way that some toddlers potty train overnight while others take months and even years, readers blossom in their own good time. I don't know of a single adult...of sound body, that is...who still wears training pants. Looking back at any "when will he/she ever have an accident-free day" thoughts I may have had, I have to chuckle. Did I really think that I would still be diapering an eighteen-year-old? It sounds silly in hindsight, but I think there were moments that I had stamped this as "fact" in my struggling-to-potty-train-this-child mind.
I see how foolish I was now. I also see that the truth that all kids eventually "get it" applies to reading as well.

Allow me to let you in on a little secret that the "real" teachers don't want you to know...

they have struggling readers too.

When I was in the classroom...especially that one lovely year when I stared straight into a sea of six-year-old faces all anxiously awaiting their turn to cross the great divide between those who can read and those who can't...I did everything I could to forge readers. EVERYTHING. For most of my students, it was the natural "next step"...reading came easy.
But, for others...for a select few...it did not.
It was a struggle.
For them.
For me.

You see, even if your child had one of those "real" teachers teaching them to read, they would probably still struggle. Why? Because God has given us all different strengths and weaknesses. Just as I can not necessarily take the credit for my son's ability to paint like a budding Picasso, I also can't take the blame for his slow-and-steady start to reading. It was how he was created.

Here's another secret.

Those little doe-eyed six-year-olds of the "lovely year" have all grown up now. They just began their first year of college. {Yep, I'm THAT old.} And do you know what? They can all read. All of them.

You see, the real truth--the truth that those "real" teachers don't want to tell you--the truth that you sometimes forget yourself, is that education is not a sprint, it's a marathon. It's not about who can get to the finish line first. It's about the journey along the way.

So, momma with the struggling reader, let me cup your cheeks and lift your chin and remind you that your child will learn to read. Just keep struggling. Just keep moving forward. The forward motion of your struggling reader might seem slightly slower than some, but ANY forward motion moves one forward.

Trust that.


  1. Thank you. I have been homeschooling for many years and all of my kids have struggled to read and yet I still am anxious about my younger two who are so behind. You would think that I would realize that my older kids, who struggled as well, are now reading and that my younger ones will too in their own good time. And yet, the fear and the shame is still there. Thank you, my friend, for the reminder and the encouragement.

    1. It's so nice that you have your older kids as "pudding" for you...the proof that it CAN BE DONE. And it will be done. Keep struggling, momma, your younger two WILL learn to read.

  2. Thank you for sharing this! I needed the encouragement :)

  3. Thank you so much. We struggle. Every. Day. It seems as though we are at a standstill. But slowly. Very slowly. He is learning. Some days it feels 3 steps forward and 18 steps back but then the next day he reads a word he did not know. Thank you again.

  4. Just the encouragement I needed! Thank you!

  5. My oldest 2 went to private school through 8th grade. They read independently by 2nd grade. We pulled the next 2 out in 3rd and 4th grade, because their reading was so poor. 5th grade was the magic year for them. My next one started reading independently this year, in 5th grade. My 3rd grader has been doing decent with Dick and Jane and some other readers this year, but still has a long way to go. Even though I know her 3 older siblings were in 5th grade before it clicked I still question myself daily. Am I really doing everything I should be for her, or should she be in school, or should I take her to a reading specialist? These questions go through my mind all the time. Thank You for sharing. It is nice to know I am not alone.

  6. Sometimes we do need help with our struggling readers. Sometimes it takes knowledge and skills we don't currently have to help a child read. I see too many people just keep plugging away trying to teach their child to read and now they are 13 and maybe reading on 3rd grade level. Now finally after talking to me for last five years about what to do they have the evaluation and find them child is severly dyslexic and in the 1 percentile currently. He wouldn't have done better in school setting though maybe parents would have been encourged sooner to seek help. Sometimes waiting isn't the right answer and makes the remediation that much harder. And yes, there are adults who can't read.

    1. My son was struggling in the schools and we now Homeschool. You're right. Sometimes we do need outside help. We found a private tutor to help him and his coincidence is so much better than it was in the school system. We experienced a lack of help and resources, as many struggling learners experience in the schools. Some paths are not right for everyone.

    2. *Confidence not coincidence. Darn auto-correct

    3. *Confidence not coincidence. Darn auto-correct