Socks, Reading, and Charity Shops

21 Dec

We didn’t accomplished a whole lot this last week. Stiggy’s been waking up quite late, around 9:30, and it takes him about an hour and a half to eat and get dressed. He’s a very slow eater and such a dawdler (I take advantage of this by using breakfast time as read-aloud time).

He’s also got a thing about his socks. Some days his socks go on just fine. Other days…well, it can take him half an hour to put his socks on. They just don’t feel right, he says; the toe seam bugs him. When the socks are finally on, he’ll sometimes test them for comfort but putting his shoes on. If they pass the shoe test, he’s good. If not, he takes them off and starts all over again. We’ve tried everything: buying him new socks, putting them on ourselves, setting time challenges, consequences (no Top Gear)…Nothing works. And he’s always been funny about his socks. When he was in nursery, there were days I would actually have to carry him out to the car sock-less, and put them on his feet once he stopped crying and allowed me to do it. I’ve since stopped fighting it. He’ll grow out of it (one of these days), and we’ll all laugh about it when he’s older.

Anyway, we’re getting such a late start that we’re not doing much ‘school.’ It also doesn’t help that Stiggy’s reading lessons are taking much longer as well. They used to take 15-20 minutes, now they can take up to 45 minutes! Not exactly in keeping with Charlotte Mason’s philosophy of short lessons (10-minutes for his age), but after 10 minutes, we’re just getting warmed up.

Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons is great, but somewhere around lesson 40, things begin to get quite difficult. The child is expected to read the words without sounding them out loud. Stiggy really struggled with this at first, and he just couldn’t understand what I meant when I told him to ‘say it in his head.’ So, I allowed him to silently move his lips as he figured the word out. After about 2 lessons of doing this, I made him stop moving his lips. He did brilliantly, and he said to me, ‘I can hear it in my head!’

Things went along well for a few more lessons. Then we had that 2 weeks off, and when we went back to the lessons, we discovered that the words were getting more difficult (as one would expect). He’s struggling with some of the words, but I’ve noticed that a lot of the time it’s because he’s just not paying attention. He shouldn’t be struggling with words like ‘so’ and ‘he’. What’s happening? I know what it is…he’s not enjoying it as much now. It’s difficult and he’s having to really focus.

He’s not saying he doesn’t want to do it, in fact he’s always quite eager to do his lesson, but once we get to the bit where he has to read without sounding it out (it’s called ‘say it fast’), he slumps in his seat and begins looking around. I encourage him to pay attention, stay focused, and get through it. He eventually does, and he feels a sense of accomplishment. I don’t want to quit doing the lessons, primarily because I don’t want him getting the idea that when things get tough it’s ok to quit, also because I don’t want him to lose what he’s already learned, and also because I want him to continue feeling that sense of accomplishment and that anything worth doing is often difficult. In other words, hard work pays off.

So, we’re changing things. In the morning when I read through the lesson, we’ll do it as is if I think it will go well, shorten it if need be, or I’ll use it as a guide and do a few bits from it, then use a Bob Book or another reader.

I’ve created a reading basket with books that are for Stiggy to read. Right now, I have two boxes of Bob Books, some of the Oxford Reading Tree sets (given to me by a friend), some DK readers snatched up from a charity shop, and Hop on Pop. We also have the Frog and Toad books, the Little Bear series, Home for a Bunny, Carrot Seed, and a few others, but I want to be able to change the books around, so I’m not putting them all out at once. That and the basket is too small for all of them.


I love charity shops. We have a lot of them in England. In our town centre, we have about 10 of them. Every Saturday I do the rounds; I try to hit all of them, or at least the best ones, and most Saturdays I come away with at least one good find. Here are some recent bargains:

Yertle the Turtle and Other Stories by Dr. Seuss .59

Bravo, Mr. William Shakespeare! by Marcia Williams .89

The Giraffe and The Pelly and Me (hardcover) by Roald Dahl .79

A Bear Called Paddington & More About Paddington CD .25

Horrible Science Blood, Bones, & Body Bits CD .25

Mozart Musical Masterpieces CD .25

Horrible Histories: Villainous Victorians & Savage Stone Age CD .25

H. Hist. Henry VIII, Queen Victoria, & Mary Queen of Scots CD .25

The Big Alfie Out of Doors Story Book by Shirley Hughes .79

6 Dorling Kindersley readers .29/each


7 responses to “Socks, Reading, and Charity Shops

  1. michelle

    December 21, 2008 at 4:49 pm

    I am on my 3rd go around with 100 Lessons. My oldest made it to lesson 50 and then we started just reading books, going back to look at new sounds. I pushed my middle to lesson 75. My youngest, who I am teaching now, is on lesson 57. We are just going through the sounds and then reading an easy reader like a Bob book or a book for the Now I am Reading Series. This method has worked 2 times, so I have faith, even though we are struggling now, that it will work again. Good Luck.

  2. Frankie

    December 21, 2008 at 4:54 pm

    Um, about the socks…

    Maybe I shouldn’t tell you this, but it may not go away, ever.

    Frankie is ducking for cover! lol The aversion to socks runs on my husband’s side of the family. My MIL who is in her 70s complains about the seam on socks every time we see her. My husband does as well. Thomas did when he was younger, quite a bit, and now it’s only occasional, but it still pops up from time to time.

    I think some people must just have sensitive feet or something. Every family get-together with DH’s family I hear sock complaints.

    Keep plugging away with the reading. It will click, and when it does, it is fast and fun to watch. It Thomas awhile to do the automatic reading, but we just practiced and practiced. We used to practice with super-easy, below his level readng materials, followed by a level above what he was reading for a push, then super-easy again.

  3. Mama B

    December 21, 2008 at 11:31 pm

    have you ever tried having him put the socks on inside out? My brother did that when little – the seams are smoother that way 🙂

  4. Michelle

    December 22, 2008 at 8:07 am

    Michelle, I feel better now. I was worried that if I didn’t ‘follow the programme’ exactly that it wouldn’t work. I feel more confident about deviating and using the readers. Thanks! 🙂

    Frankie, Yikes! 🙂 Ok, I’ll try to accept the fact that this may go on for a while. Thanks for the reassurance about the reading.

    Mama B, Thanks for the suggestion, I will try that…although my son’s such a perfectionist, he may not go for that idea, but I’ll definitely try it. Will keep you posted. 🙂

  5. mens socks

    December 24, 2008 at 9:13 am

    Did you iron your socks? My socks were destroyed for ironing mine.

  6. Naimah Umm Khadijah

    December 26, 2008 at 12:50 pm

    Assalamu ‘alaykum, I just found your site through the ‘Ummi homeschools me!’ blog, masha’Allaah, it looks great, just what I’ve been looking for.

    I’m finding with my family alot, that by the time everyone’s had breakfast and dressed etc.. the morning’s almost gone, and I don’t feel we have time to fit everything in, but there again, I’m not really watching the time when we do our lessons, so at times we’re spending far too much time on certain lessons, that I have to watch!

    I’m fairly new to the Charlotte Mason and classical methods, so always on the lookout for valuable information, will be checking back often.

    I also love having a nose in the charity shops, although there’s not much round by me. I remember when I was a teen, my mum used to stop off at almost all of them, and I would never dare be seen going in, I would wait around a couple shops away, lol, now I’m not bothered, you never know what bargains you’ll come across.

  7. christinemm

    January 19, 2009 at 12:49 am

    Have you tried putting the socks on inside out?

    Once I found a brand that my son approved of I just bought all of that kind (Hanes white sport socks).

    That is a sensory thing that is pretty common but in kids with some sensory issues the sock thing can be paralyzing and really a big deal.

    My son with mild sensory issues prefers to be barefoot even in winter on cold floors (!). He takes his shoes off at the first available opportunity, even now when he is 11 years old.


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