Monday, June 8, 2015

Reading Outside the Books

What are you reading?

It doesn't sound like a complicated question. Every quarter -- for 17 years now -- I list the books currently read by my homeschooled children. Kids read books. It's not that difficult. Is it?

My youngest made me rethink a lot of my assumptions about learning. Ever the rebel, she balked at my traditional methods to teach her to read. She learned by playing a word heavy computer game. Her brother and sister would read the instructions and story to her and she eventually just started reading.

She is also a natural speller and has excellent penmanship, two things I thought were truly teachable. My son taught me otherwise. No amount of writing helped. It frustrated him. Do you know what happens when you are stressed and try to write? You're handwriting and spelling get worse.

Considering my experiences, it was not a surprise I had to rethink what it means to read. I couldn't write down all of those wonderful classics I had written on my oldest daughter's reports. I couldn't even write down the classics adapted to graphic novels that I had for my son. My youngest enjoys manga and anime.

For those who need the lesson, manga and anime are simply the terms used for Japanese comics and animation. It's a wide ranging field full of the genres you would expect in our own Western culture -- school based fiction, sci-fi/fantasy, sports, etc. -- but you get this from a culturally different perspective. You also read manga (if the publisher stays true to the art) from right to left and if you watch the anime in the original Japanese, you get subtitles. Lots and lots of subtitles.

From watching anime with my daughters, I know they both read very fast. Because I don't and I often need to ask what was said. My youngest is picky about what she watches. The story needs to be good and it needs to be funny or she moves on to something else.

So what is my daughter reading? How do I express that to an educational engine that has reduced reading to the sum of its parts? Because reading isn't about levels and requirements and keeping track of minutes. It's about reading what interests you, even if the words don't happen to fall neatly on a page.


Paula Vince said...

With all the reading between the books opportunities available, it's difficult to see how homeschooling students could help reading, even if they didn't want to :)
Once again, we're into the same things in our household. My daughter is a very avid fan of Japanese anime, and she only ever reads them with the subtitles. She thinks the English versions are a bit laughable. Earlier in the year, she convinced me to sit down and watch Sword Art Online, which I think is her favourite. We were getting confused when she and the boys kept talking about SAO. She also loves Btooom! We have our share of graphic novels coming in and out from the library too. It's a lot of fun.
If you're anything like us, the homeschooling officers leave your place with a bit more education than when they arrived :)

Susan Gaissert said...

You have my undying respect for dealing with "homeschooling officers." In my state, I didn't have to. I let my school ideas about reading destroy me in the beginning of homeschooling. I worried so much because my daughter did not read as early as I did. In hindsight, I was such a fool. Thanks for this post, Cristina.

jugglingpaynes said...

Thank you both for enjoying it! We don't have any official visits, but I do admit to having a nail-biting session whenever I mail in our quarterlies!

Inner Elder said...

Maybe homeschooled kids are at the forefront of the new ways of the world. If we know anything about history, it is that all things evolve and change: no more pony express; typewriters; rotary telephones, etc. Ways of learning and reading are evolving also. And the kids know it before we do. It's hard, especially for my generation, to let go of all the classics we were taught. But I did most of my "real" reading after I was finished with school. Glad you are learning along with Sierra. Love, Mom

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