Bright Spots in Home Schooling

October 30, 2002  

Homeschooler Wins Reading Rainbow Competition

One of the most precocious writing talents you'll come across struggled with phonics when she was in preschool.

Haley Stewart's mother, Susan, admits to having been a little concerned about Haley's progress at the time. Six months later, with her mom homeschooling her, Haley was reading at a second grade level.

If you think that is rapid improvement, consider that a few years later, Haley, now eight, has been awarded first prize among second graders for her work in the Reading Rainbow Young Writers and Illustrators Competition, a national event attracting more than 40,000 entries each year.

Haley's winning entry "I Wished I Had a Sister" is a poem featuring references to many animals, and includes illustrations in pencil and watercolor. Haley, who lives in Trinity Alabama with her parents David and Susan and older sister, Kaitlin, finished second in the state as a first-grader.

Her writing reveals a vivid imagination, coupled with uncommon abilities of description. Her mother Susan agreed that homeschooling has been helpful in developing Haley's talents.

"It helps you to pursue your interests," Susan said. "We have a ton of after school activities and a lot of friends with the same schedule. But their kids are in school from 8 to 3 , and don't have a chance to sit down and dummy up a picture page and all the other stuff we have time to do. Homeschooling provides that opportunity while still teaching everything else."

Susan admitted to not realizing immediately that Haley's writing and illustrating skill could flourish at such an early age.

"In pre-school she still didn't know all of her phonics," Susan recalls. "I bought a book to teach your child to read in 100 easy lessons, and six months later she was reading at a second grade level. My 20 dollars were well spent."

She added that the contest fit Haley's interests and abilities quite well.

"Every time she draws a picture she has a story to go with it," she said. "She came up with the idea and expanded on it. She always does that with her pictures."

To read to the Decatur Daily's (Alabama) article about Haley's exploits, visit:

http://www.decaturdaily.com/decaturdaily/livingtoday/020816/haley.shtml

For more information about the contest, including text and audio of Haley's winning entry, visit:

http://pbskids.org/readingrainbow/contest/


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