As a father I'm passionate about my children learning to read. I struggled with reading throughout my life and still do somewhat. I didn't start really being interested in books until I was in my 20's, so much time wasted. When we decided to home school our children reading was my top priority. I understood how important reading was in life and how many opportunities open up when we learn to read. My goal was to have children that devoured books and would like to read as much and more than they liked watching TV or movies.
My wife is the main teacher and she has done an excellent job of accomplishing this goal in our first two children, they always have their nose stuck in a book. (She does a great job with all our children and me!) Our third child, a boy(7), has learned to read too and he needs lots of encouragement to keep going. Arianna is our fourth, she is 5 years old and has been living the motto, "If you can do it, so can I" with her older brother. This year she has started to read three letter words and is doing very well writing and identifying letters and sounding words out. She has a ways to go before she is reading complete books but I like to be right there when the first words are being read.
A child learning to read is amazing, I would say much better than even the first steps. If you have not experienced this transformation process from a non-reader to a reader you are missing out on one of life's special blessings. Learning to read is a process and it seems to be different for every child. Like learning to walk, children take to it differently...each in their own special way. It is amazing to see their mind putting all of the letter ideas, sound ideas, word ideas, and speaking ideas together so they can understand communication through writing.
I tell my wife to let me know the moment one of our children starts to read the smallest words. I want to be there and encourage them along the way. I started a tradition with my first, when she started to learn to read and sound out the three letter words. I took her on a "daddy date" to the book store so she could pick out her very own "big girl" Bible like mommy and daddy have. Then we would go out to lunch. I have had the privilege to carry on this tradition four times now, the latest being Arianna just a few weeks past. I look forward to the time I will, God willing, get to spend with Isaac in a few years too.
Arianna and I went down to Arroyo Grande to the Parable Book store and I showed her all the Bibles that they had to offer. We talk a little about translation and a little about content and she shopped (Children all shop differently too). Her criteria was: pink with maps and cool pictures. We must have looked at 50 different Bibles all creative and stylish. She knew what she wanted though and soon we narrowed the search down to four. The final decision came down to a beautiful rendering of Queen Esther. Arianna is into beauty and she fancies herself a queen, so it was a match made in....the book store. Her choice also met and exceeded her other criteria. After purchasing the Bible she got to pick out lunch. She choose In-N-Out for a cheeseburger with cheesy fries and a shake. We ate and talked a bit then finished up to go home and show mom her new treasure. I encouraged her to go through the Bible and just read the words she can. Even if it is just 'a' , 'and' and 'the' it is still fun and a good way to build the habit of reading the Bible for yourself.
This tradition has helped to build a personal attachment between my children and their Bibles, one I pray will lead to a long standing relationship with the Word of God. My hope, though I fall short most of the time, is to sit with them and help them work their way through the Bible and become familiar with it. Another thing this tradition had done is to encourage my children to start reading. They look forward to their time with dad as much as I look forward to my time with them.
Thank you for reading this post. Please let me know what you think. Also do you have any unique family traditions? Will you share them with us?
God be with you and go before you!