Do you have a child who seems to be taking longer than they should to learn to read? I know that this can be a stressful situation, especially with all the hoopla surrounding early childhood education everywhere you look.
What if I were to tell you that it doesn’t matter as much as you’ve been led to believe?
After hearing story upon story about homeschooling parents seeking out tutors for their 6- and 7- year old children because they are not yet reading, and the ensuing panic that often accompanies this, I’ve felt compelled to bring to light the most encouraging reasons I could come up with for the fact that age really doesn’t matter when it comes to “reading readiness.”
4 Reasons You Shouldn’t Fret Over Reading
#1- Kids develop at their own pace.
How often have we heard someone say this, or have even said it ourselves, only to turn around and ignore this very fact simply because we’re trying to follow an arbitrary timeline of “developmental milestones?” Obviously, there are cases when a child is severely behind others their age and should be evaluated, but, for the most part, we have got to give our kids the freedom to develop in their own time.
Keep in mind that it’s very common for different kids to excel at different things. I’ve seen this with my own children. My 8- year old son is just beginning to read easy readers, yet at the age of 2, he could already ollie on a skateboard. His brother, who is 1 year older than he is, isn’t the greatest athlete, but he did teach himself to read at the age of 6. It’s crucial that we begin to realize that all skills are equal in importance. The only reason so much emphasis is placed on reading is because of the public education system, which brings me to …
#2- Homeschooled children can learn in a variety of ways, unlike public school students.
The reason that early literacy is pushed so much is because most children will eventually enter a brick and mortar school where textbooks are the main method used for learning. Of course, a late reader will face difficulty in this situation and will be given instructional support, but at what cost?
Homeschoolers are free to use whatever manner of teaching they choose, whether it would be through:
- visual media, like movies, documentaries, educational TV, etc.
- audio books
- hands-on learning
- life learning
- games- computer or the good old-fashioned kind
- field trips
Knowing how to read is not mandatory for obtaining information. It is simply a tool, as with the other methods listed above.
#3- Children who are given the latitude to become literate in their own time are more likely to truly enjoy it than those who were forced before they were ready.
I’m sure we’ve all experienced this at one time or another, whether with reading or some other task. When your child ends up in tears of frustration because phonics or whole language just won’t click for them, do you honestly believe that they will equate joy with reading? The best thing to do in these situations is to drop all lessons and read, read, and read some more to your child. Not only will this help them to be more comfortable with books, but it will create a lasting bond and memories to last a lifetime.
#4- As an adult, no one cares how old you were when you learned to read.
Really, it’s true. As parents, we tend to put so much value on age-related issues, but, as adults, I’m telling you, no one gives a hoot about this stuff.
How many job interviews have you been to where your prospective employers asked you how old you were when you learned to read? Was it a question on your college application? Essay question? How many people have been turned away from graduate school because they weren’t literate by the age of 5? I’m going to take a chance and say zero.
As you can see, the reasons behind things such as “educational milestones” are often arbitrary and are only in place to make things easier for the establishment. Take advantage of your homeschooling status and let go of all these preconceived notions of what should happen when. You know your child better than anyone.
Trust your kids. Trust your instincts. I know you can do it. 🙂