This summer, I discovered something new in our yard – a beautiful, yellow lily with a burgundy center. In the decade that we’ve lived in this house, it had never bloomed before. About a week later, a solid yellow lily appeared in another part of the yard. A friend had given me some flower bulbs about two or three years ago, and I planted some in both of those locations. After the first summer had come and gone without anything appearing, I’d given up hope on them, but they’d been alive in the earth all along. My husband thinks they came up now because our neighbor cut some trees down and we are getting more sunlight. Whatever the case, they apparently needed time and the right conditions to bloom, and this was their year.
Not long after this, another miracle occurred; my son, who is seven, turned to me and said, “Mom, I’ve been noticing something lately. I know how to read now.”
I’ve been trying to teach him to read for about the same length of time that those bulbs have been underground, and until recently, the fruits of my labor had not seemed very productive.
When I made the decision to homeschool him, a veteran homeschool mom told me, “Don’t worry if he is slow to read. Several of my children have been, but they all got it eventually.” I nodded and smiled, thinking that I didn’t need to worry about that. After all, I could read at age three, and my two older children, who’d gone to school, were reading in first grade. Why should he be any different?
When we began his phonics instruction in kindergarten, he was making good progress until he actually had to begin blending the isolated sounds that he’d learned into words. No matter what I tried, he just could not “hear” the blend. I was set on following the curriculum to the letter, and he was getting frustrated by the amount of practice that was required by each lesson. By the time that he was able to blend, he had developed a dread for reading and a lack of confidence in his ability, no matter how much I tried to encourage him. To make matters worse, a friend of mine noticed his inability to read and began to question me about it, periodically suggesting that I ought to put him in public school, which made me feel even more defeated.
When he reached second grade, I knew that I needed to try something different. Some days we did a lesson out of the phonics book, and on alternate days, we used a vintage reading primer that he enjoyed and felt less intimidated by. His sister was beginning kindergarten, and she quickly began to catch up to him. When he realized this, an internal motivation emerged from him not to let her out-do him. His cooperation improved, but he still needed to sound everything out slowly, letter by letter.
I prayed for a breakthrough and continued to have him practice this summer with some easy readers. One day, I noticed that he was beginning to finally see what some of the words were on first sight, without having to sound them out. Now, the day had come when he realized what that meant. He was finally a reader.
I should have listened to that mom years ago, when she tried to impart some wisdom from her own experience. Children develop at their own pace. Rather than wasting time worrying or letting my pride be injured that my child wasn’t doing something at the same time that other children are, I should have just turned my cares over to God and had confidence that my son would bloom when the time was right. Just like the lilies in my garden, it was a lovely surprise when it happened.
“Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?” – Matthew 6:28-30