Blog post written by Shauna Ziegler, Cedar City, UT a reading implementation coach.
Before my daughter started using the Reading Horizons Discovery Software, homework was a frustrating time for everyone involved. I would be frustrated and yelling. She would be frustrated and crying. Her dad would be frustrated at all of it and tell us to put it away because it wasn’t worth it. As an educator, this was really difficult for me. I wanted my daughter to enjoy reading and not have it be a struggle.
Every day Isabelle, my 3rd grader, would come home from school and show me a note she got that day and ask, “What does this say?” I would respond by telling her to read it. Her sad response was always, “I can’t read!” One day she came home and told me that she was bad in math too. This was a surprise to me because she’s very good at her math homework. I tried to encourage her with positive accolades to no avail. She said that she always has to go back to the table to get help because she can’t read the story problems.
At our house reading homework looked something like this: “Belle, get your book and come read to me.”
“Do I have to?”
“I don’t want to. Can’t we do it after dinner?”
“No, let’s get it done now while we have time.”
Belle would stomp to her backpack to retrieve her book and stomp back to where I was sitting. She begrudgingly pulled her book from the baggy as she would tell me her friends were on a much higher level than she was.
“That’s okay,” I would tell her, “ we’ll just keep reading and practicing and you’ll get better.”
Highly doubting my words, she would slowly open her book and begin to read. By reading I mean she would s-l-o-w-l-y read the words she knew and then would wait for me to tell her the words she couldn’t read, which was most of them because she believed she couldn’t read. I would tell her a word and she would come to it in the next sentence and still not be able to read it. After this had happened a few times, I would be so frustrated that I would start yelling at her. By the time she finished a page, neither one of us knew what she had read, and both of us were frustrated beyond belief. That is how reading was every night, each night just as excruciatingly painful as the night before.
Have you experienced this yourself? Have you had students that you know experience this every night as well?
My daughter, who was so down on herself, comes from a 2-parent affluent home, where I’m an educator. We work with her nightly. Her physical needs are met. Her emotional needs are met. So why can’t she read? I still don’t know why, but what I do know, is that Reading Horizons Discovery has changed everything about the way Isabelle reads and everything about the way reading homework looks like at night.
Now Isabelle has been using Reading Horizons Discovery Software at home. I may have had to trick her into it because of her hatred of reading, but she was a willing participant when I presented it as a “job” to help me with my job. She “works” 2-3 times a week on Reading Horizons Discovery Software. When she’s finished she tells me what she’s learned and we discuss it together.
It’s amazing what this has done for not only her reading, but her self-esteem as well. I got an excited text from her teacher after she finished a dibels progress monitoring session showing me how far she had progressed in one month. She went from those ugly red dots (needs intensive support), to yellows (needs strategic support) and greens (on grade-level).
Now reading homework looks something like this: “Belle, go get your book and come read to me.”
“Can we do it after dinner?” What child wouldn’t put off homework as long as possible?
“No, let’s do it now so we can play a game later.”
Belle happily gets her book from her bag and brings it to me. “Look mom, I moved up a level!”
“That’s great Belle! I’m so proud of you for working so hard.”
“Look, this book has chapters!”
She then begins to read her book. Her fluency has improved so it is easier to listen to her read. She is reading most of the words right away. She attempts to decode words on her own, instead of expecting me to tell her the word. When she gets stuck on a word, usually one with a skill she hasn’t gotten to yet, I will help her with only that skill. She is then able to decode the word and instead of me being frustrated and yelling, I’m giving her praise. Instead of her being frustrated and upset, she is proud of herself. Her comprehension has also improved. She can tell me everything that has happened in the story and her sentences she writes in her Reader’s Response Journal have become longer and more detailed.
I can’t thank Reading Horizons enough for what it has done for my daughter, her reading abilities, and for saving our relationship from “Homework Hell”.