So Your Child Isn't Reading Yet

So, my child isn’t reading yet...

Wow.  This is such a big topic for some parents right now.  One of my children was a late reader, like an almost-12 late kind of reader.  Anyone related to any school system either told me or diagnosed him as dyslexic.  Ok.  Let’s give it a name and we all feel better.  Nope.  

After a ton of research, here is what I found out. First, I was not a failure and totally letting my kid down.  We as homeschooling parents can go there pretty quickly, can’t we?  The thing is, all kids are different.  They learn at different times and in different ways.  That is part of why we decided to do this, right?  We didn’t want our kids doing exactly what the school wanted them to do when they needed them to do it.  It was about our kids and what they needed most to thrive.  

This is where we need to shift how we are thinking.  We are homeschooling specifically so we can do what is best for our child.  That includes encouraging them to read in their own time.  We get to be grateful we don’t have to push them to go through the frustrating tasks of learning to read at such a young age.  I’m not bashing that at all.   One of my kids read at 3 and that was cool, too.  It is all about how your kid is made.  

Think about this for a moment.  Why do kids need to be reading by first grade, or kindergarten, or second grade, or whatever your school district decides?  So it is easier to teach them later.  How are they going to be able to do their worksheets?  Read their textbooks?  Take their tests?  How is a teacher supposed to function if all of her students aren’t reading what she is giving them to do?  It is not the teacher’s fault.  It is how the system is set up.  The school then sets standards based on their system and if the kids aren’t reading to level it messes with the testing and then everyone is failing.  Now we have a society that believes a child must be reading by a certain age and we all lose sight of what the child needs or is capable of doing at a particular age.  

The science behind this, according to Dr. Raymond Moore, shows that children can learn to read as early as 3 and many as late as 8 or 9, especially boys.  It is not uncommon for some boys to wait until 11-12 when there is a key developmental change in their brain.  Check out the book Better Late Than Early: A New Approach to Your Child's Education.  He discusses all of this there as well as in some of his other books.  The key is that there is a huge difference between teaching your child to read and being a lifelong reader.  We can usually force a 5 or 6 year old to functionally read, but is there enjoyment or even comprehension? Our goal is to raise a lifelong learner, not a rushed reader.

What should you do with a child who may be, according to some, a late reader?  That is easy!  DO NOT make them feel bad about it.  It is normal and stress will make it harder and convince them that they will never enjoy being a reader.  
Here are several other tips:

1.    Read to them often and/or turn on audio books.  Hearing and experiencing the process will help them to enjoy it later as well as get there more easily.  

2.    If you are worried about them getting behind, teach them to “write” a paper verbally.  There are so many apps that can turn words into writing these days.  Use them to create a rough draft all while teaching the basics of an Introduction, Body, and Conclusion.  This is a great skill to have anyway.  Your child will end up being a great speaker as well as a reader/writer.  

3.    My son was very adept at memorizing as well.  Build on their strengths!  Maybe you have noticed that kids often develop quickly in one area and while that is happening the other areas can take a back seat.  Think of a baby learning to walk.  Usually their speech stalls for a while until they get all of that gross motor stuff figured out.  This way of development doesn’t stop after they are done being babies.

4.    You can totally find other kids in the same situation.  Let your child know he is not alone.  Check your local homeschool groups or check for other families on Facebook, for example.  Having friends or even knowing about them can be a huge help.

5.    If your child is feeling down about the whole reading thing, start focusing on what they are awesome at.  Usually they are really good with at least one other thing, if not several.  My son could describe a black hole in way I didn’t even understand two years before he was a regular reader.  Find out what they really know.

6.    The real key to all of this is that the whole reading thing is really not the huge issue we’re all afraid it is.  It really isn’t.  Search for your gratitude and show your child and yourself that you’ve got this and know that this is just part of the reason you chose to homeschool in the first place!

I would love to hear your experiences with teaching your own children to read. Leave a comment below!