Happy Cheetah Reading

My Biggest Homeschool Convention Surprise

The exhibit hall doesn’t look overly impressive in this schematic, but by the end, I was worn out!

I went to a local homeschool convention recently. I have used so many programs and therapies over the years, but I was curious to see what additional programs are out there, to teach early elementary reading.

It was a fascinating day, certainly, and a privilege to get to talk to enthusiastic users of a wide range of programs. I appreciate so much their willingness to share their experiences.

But one of the things that surprised me — it shouldn’t have, but it did — was how much information the teachers needed to learn. For some, parents needed to read an entire book or two (a college-like textbook, filled with educationalese) before they began reading. For others, there was a page or two of scripted lessons before each day’s activities.

I came away from that day completely overwhelmed. (It’s taken almost a week to even begin to think about writing about it.) I have been homeschooling for almost seventeen years now. I’ve taught three children to read, and a couple more are in process. I’ve read dozens of books on homeschooling and pedagogy, listened to lectures, read tens of thousands of recommendations on various channels of social media over the last fifteen years.

Of all people, I shouldn’t be overwhelmed.

But I still was! There were proponents of teaching rules, and proponents of not teaching rules. There were options that included no writing, and options that recommended writing. There were craft activities and play dough activities and at least one app. Some that started with print and some that advocated for cursive first. There were easy readers and programs that promised an integrated experience where my child would somehow learn to read while also doing math. (That one didn’t make much sense to me, honestly — I may have gotten it wrong.)

Now I’m reasonably intelligent. If I put my mind to it, I think I probably could learn most things.

And I like to learn! Learning itself doesn’t turn me off.

But the idea that I would need to find additional time in my day to prep activities, or to learn the philosophy behind using a product . . . that seems almost unkind.

The first time I met Dr. Karen, one of the things she said was: “I wanted to create this program so that there was no need for a teacher’s manual. So often the parents don’t read it anyway, and it makes the whole process more intimidating than it needs to be.”

How nice, I remember thinking.

But after going to the convention, I have a new level of respect for that intention.

There’s a quote attributed to Albert Einstein: “The definition of genius is taking the complex and making it simple.”

Because the thing is: you don’t have to be an expert on teaching your children to read. You don’t have to read anything about the philosophy behind the Happy Cheetah Reading System . . . unless you want to.

The short instructions are all built in to each workbook page.

Dr. Karen took her six years of classroom teaching, and decade or so of homeschooling experience, her doctoral studies, and her almost 25 years of clinical experience, and combined them all into an easy-to-use program.

You don’t have to be an expert in anything. As long as you can read the instructions, you’re good to go.

That’s genius.

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