Do all kids read by the beginning of second grade??

This is hard for me to admit, much less put it into writing. It makes me feel vulnerable, but here I go.

My second grader is struggling with reading. When we do phonics or attempt to read together, he immediately gets uptight and starts to fidget. It’s like he convinced himself that reading is too hard. Reading is not his thing; he is more drawn to science and math (like his daddy, not mommy).

It’s frustrating. I feel responsible for his lack of reading skills, because I’m his primary teacher. With homeschooling it’s so easy to blame yourself when things don’t go well; and easy to take for granted when things do go right.

When I wrote this post yesterday, I asked Elliot to write something (about his favorite season) for a new spelling book we started this school year. He asked why the following page was blank unlike the previous pages. When I told him (in a very uplifting tone…or so I thought) he could write whatever he wanted any way he wanted, he burst into tears.

I almost cried with him; my heart hurt. I could sense his frustration and fear. After a long talk reassuring him that learning is hard, no matter your age or subject, and praying together that God would give him courage to try and to learn from his mistakes, he decided to give it a try.

With the time set for 10 minutes as advised by the Instructor’s Manual he started to write some words down. He used inventive spelling. When I looked over his work later, I so wanted to correct the errors and ask him to write in complete sentences.


I had to look at the bigger picture and think long-term. I overlooked the errors and instead praised him for working on this challenge. This was not an auspicious time for that discussion. He softly asked me if all his words were wrong. I said it was okay. There’s always the next lesson and plenty of opportunities to improve.

Second grade started less than a month ago, and here I am freaking out that he’s not a fluent reader. Being a teacher is not only about teaching but building up my student (my kid) to become a confident, persevering, and thoughtful learner. There’s a lot of learning for me too: learning to teach according to his interests, pacing ourselves, and respecting his learning style.