We receive many questions about Caspian’s education. People new to our community want to know how he is schooled as we’re driving through different countries. Long-time friends just want to know what he’s learning and experiencing right now. This article will talk about both. The exciting news prompting this update is Caspian has started reading!
Caspian did not use any curriculum or specific method to learn to read. Instead, I followed his lead and provided resources when he was ready. If this seems vague and hard to follow, then continue reading for the whole story. I hope it will empower you on your own journey to teach your own child to read.
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How did I teach my child to read?
I started teaching Caspian to read in early 2020 when he’d just turned three. By that time, he’d completed two preschool workbooks of letters and numbers. Through the first book, he was so small that I held his hand with the pencil as we did all the pages. The second workbook he could do himself. He thought both were fun.
A childhood friend of mine has a daughter the exact same age as Caspian. They were born at the same hospital in Austin just a few days apart. In 2020, my friend started going through Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons with her daughter. So I figured it was time for Caspian to start learning to read, too.
I bought the book and started the daily reading lessons with three-year-old Caspian. But something was wrong. Unlike the workbooks, Caspian was fighting me for the first time. He was getting frustrated and pushing back. He wasn’t enjoying the sessions one bit.
So I did something that was hard for me at the time. I put the book away.
A few months later, we took the book out and tried again. But the result was the same. Caspian clearly wasn’t ready.
I desperately wanted him to learn to read. But what I wanted more was for him to love the learning process. I could never forgive myself if I dragged his blossoming three-year-old self through a curriculum for my satisfaction, leaving him resentful and affecting his view of learning moving forward.
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Okay, so how did Caspian actually learn to read?
I let it go. I stopped worrying about Caspian learning to read. Instead, I kept reading to him–every day. Using the wonderful lists from Read-aloud Revival, we found funny and interesting children’s books with beautiful illustrations. Before Caspian turned five, we’d read 1,000 books together. He may not have been reading by himself, but there was no doubt he loved to read.
Time went by. Leapfrog’s animated film, Letter Factory, taught Caspian his letter sounds in a format he loved. When Caspian was four, we worked through a few Bob Books. He listened to podcasts and audiobooks that expanded his vocabulary and exposed him to new ideas. He’s an auditory learner, so he’ll sit and listen for hours.
When he was five, Caspian surprised me by recognizing certain words in the books I read to him. He asked more questions about letters and words. As he matured and gained countless other skills, I watched for cues, not wanting to rush the reading process like I did before.
In Panama City last October, it finally happened. Caspian read his first book: Cat Has a Plan. After reading to me, he read the whole thing to his Daddy. We celebrated!
But you know what? Instead of immediately snatching up more beginner-level books and asking him to practice reading every day, I gave him more time.
Three months went by. Caspian turned six. My gut said he might be ready to read, so I decided to gather resources. From here in Bogotá, Colombia, I searched our online library for Ready-to-Read books at the Ready-to-Go level (Cat Has a Plan was one of these books). I checked out as many as I could.
One by one, Caspian read each of the books! Some were easier than others and he struggled at times. But I felt he had the maturity to push through, so I encouraged him. And at the end of each book, we celebrated with a special song and dance!
In the past month, Caspian has read seven Ready-to-Read books and we have three more on hold at the library. He’s started to recognize the same words without having to sound them out every time. He’s learning grammar rules, like the sounds of certain consonant and vowel combinations.
Caspian is reading.
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So you didn’t use a curriculum for learning to read?
I share the whole story because I want you to understand that I didn’t use any curriculum to teach Caspian to read. Not only did I not use curriculum, but I didn’t even use a method or intentional process. Instead, I followed Caspian’s lead and individual development, and gave him the support he needed when the time was right.
This is an unschooling method of education. Caspian is just one in a long line of children who have learned to read this organic way. It’s low-stress for everyone–and fun. It’s a method that allows for exploration and freedom.
I’ve learned I don’t have to have the entire process planned out. I have a loose plan right now, but I’m willing to change it if Caspian needs something different. Right now my plan is to continue using the Ready-to-Read series. I want to offer him the Ready-to-Go level (purple) books until he is comfortable with all the words and can read them effortlessly. Then we will move to the next level.
Unfortunately, the Letter Factory movie about letter sounds isn’t on Netflix anymore, but I can buy it from Leapfrog. I think the investment is worth it given how it helped Caspian before.
I also plan to show Caspian some YouTube videos about grammar and letter sounds, to fortify his reading skills. We may also find and download some work pages, though printing is usually a challenge when we’re on the road. If I can’t print, then I could probably duplicate work pages in his notebook.
Do you see how simple this can be?
List of resources
Here is a list of the resources I mentioned in this article:
- Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons
- Read-aloud Revival recommended book lists
- Letter Factory movie
- Bob Books
- Ready-to-Read series
I also mentioned using online library books, podcasts, and audiobooks. If you’re interested, then I can write separate articles about how we use these resources in the future.
If you have any questions or want to share how your child learned to read, then please leave a comment!
What a wonderful way to learn to read!! I love how you allow Caspian to learn at his own pace, encouraging him along the way! Thank you for sharing Brittany. I am reminded of my two kiddos learning to read. The Leapfrog Letter Factory video was one they enjoyed as well. So looking forward to hearing more about Caspian’s learning journey.
Thank you for your encouragement and for taking the time to read the article. Even though I was homeschooled all 12 grades, so much of my style of educating Caspian is foreign to me. I believe in the concepts, but the road is unsure until you’ve traveled it! So far, I’m loving the low-stress, child-led days we are living.
This is a beautiful journey to enjoy as a family, not stressful but fun and effective. I’d love to hear you sharing about the audiobooks and podcasts, I think it will be a great tool to reinforce during those long driving hours. Again, thank you for sharing. 🙂