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The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine


January 25, 2012

How to Help the Struggling Reader


Deborah's  Picture
Deborah Wuehler and family



We read to our children when they are babies and read their favorite book over and over when they are toddlers. We read aloud those good, exciting, wholesome chapter books when they are any age. We provide books on tape for children so they can listen while they are doing something constructive with their hands. We make going to the library a treat. We buy children special books as special gifts. We let them catch our spirit of loving to read and hope that they model our reading behavior. We teach them the mechanics of reading. After all of that, they are certain to be proficient readers, right? Not always--there are still those struggling readers out there whom we have exhausted, along with ourselves, with all our attempts.


Maybe it's developmentally too early (yes, sometimes 6 is too young, especially if the child is a boy), or visually, physically, or mentally hard for them to read. Perhaps they have a learning block or dyslexia (see Dianne Craft's excellent resources for struggling readers at or are just struggling with too much, too soon. Sometimes new homeschooling moms want to make sure their young ones are learning enough and they overdo a good thing, making it hard for everyone when expectations are not met.  


One of my sons learned to read proficiently at 6 but would prefer doing anything else but reading for pleasure. Don't get me wrong, he read his required books, biographies, and classics, is an excellent language arts guy, and excels in comprehension, spelling and grammar. But give him a choice, and he'd rather do something else.


I have another son who worked through dyslexia troubles, took much longer to learn his phonics sounds, and had trouble with spelling and mechanics for years and years-all the way through high school, in fact. (His younger brother surpassed him in those areas, and we had to explain how God made each differently.) He eventually learned to read proficiently around age 9, but reading was a chore until he was 11 or 12, and then he found some wholesome adventure books at a homeschool convention and was hooked (Lee Roddy's series Ladd Family Adventures). He had a rough beginning but now loves to read.


So, good readers are not necessarily early readers and early readers don't always grow up to love reading. God designs each differently and gives them talents in areas as He deems fit for His purposes. We are all wired differently for different purposes.


It's important to get through those reading troubles because of the main reason we learn to read. Pray for wisdom and keep working at it. It's most important to develop a love for reading God's Word. When each of my children masters the basics of reading and can read Genesis 1:1, they get their very own special Bible. We all read the Bible every single day so that we will learn to fear the Lord. That is our goal in learning to read and our goal for all of life.



". . . and he shall read therein all the days of his life: that he may learn to fear the LORD his God." Deuteronomy 17:19

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Hey from Gena 

Gena Suarez
Gena Suarez

Gena Suarez, Publisher of TOS     


Gena is taking a break to concentrate on magazine business. Veteran homeschool parents will be filling in for her from time to time. This week's article is by Janice Campbell. Janice is the graduated homeschool mom of four sons, and the author of the Excellence in Literature curriculum and Transcripts Made Easy. Visit her website at for more articles and a free newsletter. 




According to the traditional school schedule, all children learn to read in first grade. If they don't or if they struggle, they may be assigned to the slow group and begin the process of being labeled as a special needs child. But what if that child is homeschooled, and what if he or she is yours? 


If you find yourself with a child who is struggling to learn to read, the first thing to do is have a thorough eye exam by an optometrist experienced in working with children who find reading difficult. You may find that the child simply doesn't see well or that he or she has a tracking problem that can be corrected with relatively simple exercises. A child who doesn't see well will often not realize that other people see more clearly, so will never think to tell a parent that the letters on the page aren't clear.   


Once physical difficulties are ruled out, assess the student's learning style. Does he or she learn best by seeing, hearing, or touching? Consider whether your curriculum is allowing the student to approach reading through his learning strength. If not, look for enrichment materials such as audiotapes or sandpaper letters, or another curriculum that may be a better fit.   


Consider also that children develop at different rates and ages. Some are verbally gifted and reading at age 4, while others are still sounding out words at 10 or 11. Boys may develop verbal ability later than girls, and kinesthetic and auditory learners often lag behind visual learners.   


The most important thing you can do to help struggling readers is to continue to read aloud or provide them with audiobooks. All children need to be deeply saturated with the words and ideas that come from good literature in order to build knowledge, vocabulary, critical thinking skills, and a love of story or a desire to find out more about something. For some children, it takes a lot of listening to books to build a strong enough foundation for reading, so make time to read or listen to audiobooks daily.   


Finally, if you have considered vision, learning styles, developmental readiness, and whether the student has an adequately strong word foundation and your student is still

Janice Campbell

struggling, you may want to consult a reading specialist or do some in-home testing to determine if there is a more complex problem. One resource is The Struggling Reader diagnostic and remediation system. Designed by reading specialists who homeschool their own children, this helpful program is available at   


Above all, don't panic. Don't allow your children to compare themselves and don't let the struggling reader hear you talking about the problem with others. Being embarrassed or made to feel slow or dumb can cause a child to feel that he or she hates reading, and that is a tremendous handicap to learning. Try instead to instill the love of story, and the path will be simpler. Rest assured that most children do learn to read, and as long as they've been read to, a later-than-usual start in reading does no harm.


~Janice Campbell




Last week's algebra article had a broken link. The book Cryptoclub is no longer available as a free download. However, here are some activities that are similar to what were in the book: And here is an article with some ideas for using games to make learning algebra simpler: apologize for the inconvenience.


Note from Gena:
Hey everyone, we are looking for some good writers to join our Schoolhouse Star Contributors Team (Schoolhouse Writers Group). It's a volunteer position but has some incredible perks (like access to all the TOS e-products--you'll need them for review) as well as the occasional Starbucks coffee gift certificate and always credit/byline/bio for your writings. We also  have a PAID position for someone who can quickly put e-books together. The pay is low but the rewards are pretty cool. Email with either STAR in the subject line (for the writers group) or EBOOK ARTIST in the subject line if you think you can (for peanuts) lay in a bunch of e-books for us. Hope to hear from you!


Creation Revolution 


Consider the choices you make every day. What consequences occur for yourself or for others around you because of decisions you make?


Passengers on the cruise ship Costa Concordia suffered consequences because of a choice the ship's captain made to disregard safety guidelines. Read how this captain's decision affected 4,200 people and their families in the article "Actions Have Consequences."

The Familyman
Todd Wilson
Todd WIlson

Todd Wilson, Familyman Ministries  


Once upon a time, long, long ago in the land-of-make-believe, there lived a dad. He was inexperienced, had young children, and was incredibly handsome.

One day, the incredibly handsome dad wrote an article about how simple it is to make every child a reader. In his mind, he thought he was offering help, but upon looking back, the now older although not much wiser dad knows he may have furthered the lie that EVERYONE must be a reader, and for that he is sorry.


The truth is some kids become readers and some do not. I . . . er, the dad mentioned above has some children who read voraciously. They read all the time, devouring books like chocolate chip cookies right out of the oven.


On the other hand, the dad has other children who, although they can and do read, don't read in the same manner as the book-gobblers. Instead of curling up with a good book, they draw, build, or experiment with science for pleasure.


The point is that not all children will become voracious readers. Yes, we sometimes limit the possibility by allowing them to fill their time with TV and computer games, but even if you remove all those distractions, some children and adults still aren't readers. And that's okay.


So have a wonderful day in the land-of-real, be patient with your struggling reader, and please forgive the stupid . . . although handsome dad.


Be real,


Todd (obviously NOT the dad in the above story)


P.S. After working out a few kinks, the 2012 You 'da Dad Page-a-day Calendar is now available as an iPhone app. Whether your husband has the paper version or not, he's going to love our new calendar app! In addition to cool trivia that only a dad and his kids would care about, he'll also find fathering quotes to inspire him, fun family road-trip destinations, and tips to make him a legendary dad!


And did I mention that this awesome app is FREE?


All he needs to do is head over to the Apple app store and download the best in dad encouragement: the You 'da Dad Calendar app!


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Contest Central   

For the month of January, 2012  


Famous Figures of Medieval Times


I am such a fan of homeschool product and curriculum providers who do things beautifully and well, providing quality materials for us and our students to learn from and enjoy. Cathy Diez-Luckie's Famous Figures of Medieval Times from is a resource that fits all of the above qualifications; at once educational and beautiful, it is put together of quality binding and has a lovely presentation. The book is recommended for ages 6 to 12, and I'd definitely agree with that recommendation; the figures appeal to a wide range.


I was first made aware of Cathy's Famous Figures books when I was perusing the vendor hall at a local homeschooling convention, and I was immediately drawn to her booth by what was obviously a quality product. Cathy was there, helpfully answering questions and demonstrating her other products, Famous Figures of Ancient Times,Famous Figures of the American Revolution, and Dinosaurs on the Move. In addition to her books, she provides the correct-sized hole punch you'll need as well as paper fasteners to do the projects right. Consider purchasing them from her to save yourself the headache of trying to find just the right one. (. . .)


Read the rest of the review here.


Win this resource for your family!



Email Deb with your name, mailing address, and phone number for contact purposes, with the subject line "Famous Figures" for a chance to win* this great resource!

2011-12 Schoolhouse Planners  

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® Magazine, LLC ("Company") is sponsoring the January Contest Central contest running from January 1, 2012, to January 31, 2012. You must be 18 years of age or older and follow all rules to participate. Entering the contest constitutes full and complete acceptance of, and a warranty that the entrant has read, understands and agrees to, all contest terms and conditions, including without limitation all of The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC Contest Rules ("Official Rules") and The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine Writer Guidelines and Terms and Conditions for Submitting Queries. All Official Rules apply. Entry also constitutes full consent and unlimited permission for Company to print, publish, broadcast and use all intellectual property and personal information submitted as part of the Contest entry on the Internet and in any and all Company publications in accordance with the Rules. Entries become the sole property of Company and will not be returned. Employees and independent contractors of The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, Contest sponsors, individuals or entities furnishing Contest prizes and their family members may not participate in this contest. Company reserves the sole, discretionary right to determine contest winners and to cancel, terminate, modify, or suspend the contest or the Rules at any time with or without notice or cause, subject to applicable law. See Official Rules for details.

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