10 Reasons All Kids Should Read at Their Own Pace

Learning to read is one of the most exciting milestones many parents look forward to in the lives of their children. It is, without a doubt, a breathtaking moment the first time you listen to your child read a book to you.

Literacy opens so many doors to so many new opportunities. Reading a great work of fiction is a magical way of escaping from the monotony of daily life. It is a gate through which the imagination can take flight. It grants the ability to function in an extremely text-driven world.

But does it matter so much when it happens? Right now I’m in the midst of reading a book on educational reform, and so far a great deal of it deals with the problems brought on by insisting that children learn to read at younger and younger ages.

What has surprised me the most in my reading is that it is largely parents who are demanding more and more with each passing year that their 3- and 4-year olds are introduced to reading and math concepts before they’re developmentally ready for it.

Whether it’s from worrying about their children’s futures, competitiveness, or impatience depends on the person, but no matter the reason, it’s time that the parents of little ones stop, take a breather, and think about why this is so important to them.

Because, truth be told, more and more child development experts are finding that this trend can actually be harmful in the long run. 

I’m no expert in this area if you go by credentials, but I am a mother who has had children learn to read in school at an early age (some with difficulty, some without) and has had children learn to read when they were ready. With this experience in mind, here are:

10 Reasons All Kids Should Learn to Read at Their Own Pace

#1- Children aren’t cookie cutter images of one another.

All kids develop differently. Some kids are early readers but are “late” at tying shoes or learning to ride a bike. Other children tackle any sport they try with ease, yet have issues with spelling and printing legibly. Does this necessarily mean that one child is more intelligent than another? Not at all. It means that children have their own innate natural talents that should be given the opportunity to develop without excessive coercion.

#2- It is less stressful for the child.

Children who aren’t pushed to do something they aren’t developmentally ready for are bound to feel more anxiety than those who aren’t. It’s that simple.

I remember when I first began homeschooling and was so intent on staying on task with what my kids would have been doing in school. My then-7-year-old daughter used to sit and cry during her reading lessons, and I would feel helpless and frustrated. Not a good combination.

I finally decided that I wasn’t willing to put her through this anymore (and to be honest, I needed a break), so I stopped our reading lessons, cold turkey. A few months went by when I found my daughter in her room reading to a younger sibling more fluently than I had ever heard her read before.

To say this was an eye opener is an understatement.

#3- It is less stressful for the parent.

(See #2…) I do feel the need to point out here that in order for the parent to not feel overly anxious over letting their child learn at their own pace, they would need to fully believe in why they’ve decided to back off.

If you’re going to let your child take the lead, then let them. If you’re going to have frequent panic attacks over the fact that your 6-year-old doesn’t know her sight words, you’re going to totally defeat the purpose and bring that stress right back into both of your lives.

I highly suggest reading some John Holt for inspiration.

#4- Learning to read won’t seem like “work.”

I think we all know that most children have an aversion to that word (and some adults). If a child is choosing to learn something instead of being told to learn something, it has a huge impact on how well they learn it, and what their attitude toward it will be like.

#5- They are more likely to enjoy it.

I’m not naive enough to think that all children will learn to enjoy reading if they aren’t pushed into it, but they are certainly more likely to appreciate doing something they were able to tackle and conquer in their own time.

#6- There are less self-esteem issues stemming from problems with learning to read.

Do you remember being in elementary school? Do you remember how the kids in your class used to giggle when the slower readers were asked to read out loud? Maybe you were that child being giggled at.

These memories don’t go away easily. In fact, in many cases, they won’t go away at all.

Is your child learning to read before they are ready so important that you’re willing to risk allowing them to go through situations like these?

#7- It gives them time to blossom and mature.

Children who are more developmentally ready to read are often mature enough to skip the “See Dick Run” readers and jump right into books that actually have some meat to them.

#8- They have better comprehension.

I don’t think it takes much detective work to realize that when a child has a hard time figuring out phonics rules, exceptions, sight words, etc., comprehending what they’re stumbling through is going to be the last thing on their mind. Without comprehension, reading is pointless. Children who understand what they’re reading will excel more quickly because they are able to gain an actual interest in what they’re reading about.

#9- They are more likely to read for enjoyment.

This goes hand in hand with #5. One of my older sons hates reading. Just despises it. I’m willing to bet the reason is because he was pushed beyond his capacity when he was in school, given an IEP, and learned the stigma of Special Ed the hard way. He simply will not read anything I do not tell him he has to.

Contrast that with the daughter I spoke of earlier. After being given the freedom to learn to read when she was ready, she is the child I am most likely to find sitting in her room reading, lying on the living room floor reading to her siblings, or asking incessantly when we’re going to the library next.

The difference is glaringly obvious.

#10- They will have more time to discover alternative methods of learning.

There are so many wonderful ways of obtaining information in this day and age. There are movies, shows, and documentaries. Audio books. Hands-on learning. Board games. Video games. Nature study. Experimentation. Discovery learning. Play.

I could continue this list on for quite some time, but I think you get the point.

In school, the major reason reading is taught when it is is because it is a textbook-driven institution. Everything is books, books, and more books.

Now, I’m a big fan of books (although, textbooks, not so much), but they are far from being the only, or even the best, learning method.

There are so many different learning styles out there, and different people benefit from different educational approaches. The problem is that children who learn to read for the sole purpose of being able to stay on track with their class often lose the opportunity to explore all of the other amazing ways life has to offer us as learning experiences.

It’s something I’m not willing to compromise with when it comes to my kids.


For all of the hoopla concerning early literacy and all of the propaganda surrounding it, I hope you can take what I’ve written about today and ponder what it may mean for you and your family. 

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this subject. Leave a comment below. 🙂


Linking up with:

iHomeschool Network

All kids should learn to read at their own pace.









Author: Shelly Sangrey

I'm Shelly, a Christ-following, homeschooling Mom of eleven children ( okay, not ALL children. My oldest is 23.) I met my husband right after graduation, and we've been together ever since. Though my life can be hectic at times... okay, ALL the time, I wouldn't change it for anything.

45 thoughts on “10 Reasons All Kids Should Read at Their Own Pace”

  1. You are absolutely right. I taught myself to read when I was three. (Of course my parents read to me a lot and would answer questions I asked them about letters. ) I’ve been a bookworm ever since. My younger brother (10 years younger) was read to as much as I was, but had little interest in learning to read. When he was in junior high, they discovered he was dyslexic. I remember how Mom and I had tried to help him in reading when he was in the primary grades, but it just didn’t work. It led only to tears and frustration until we got him the help he needed. Meanwhile, he was convinced he was stupid because his friends could read and he couldn’t. He reads now, and he got Hooked on Phonics for his own son, but reading is still not his favorite pastime. Every child is different. Schools can’t cope with that.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I love this and I pinned this. I heartily agree with all of this. My youngest is 9 and is just starting to read early chapter books. Sure he might be considered “behind” in his reading but his skill is growing by leaps and bounds! If we had pushed him I would have killed his love of books and stories… so I backed off and waited and waited.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Very good! I think about this all the time. While I was a very good reader early I never cared to read. I have only become an avid reader in the last 8 years. My two older children, 11 and 10 are not very good readers. I still read out loud to them a lot. My 7-year -old reads perfectly for her age. I’ve learned exactly what you wrote. I have to allow all my children to develop at their pace. *On a side note; someone gave my 2 -year -old a learning toy about a year ago. It was targeted for her age. I told my husband, had this been 10 years ago that toy would have been targeted to a five-year-old. Lol. Very true how we are pushing our children younger and younger!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes! That’s exactly what the book I’m reading was talking about. Kindergarteners today are expected to process the same information that was once expected in 2nd grade, and people wonder why we have such a high incidence of kids with IEP’s these days.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. My dad started his career as a reading teacher on the Hopi Reservation. He commented that they routinely had ten year old enroll who had missed the ‘first four years of school’, and that it made no difference. Within a month or two, they were up to speed with their classmates regarding reading and every other skill.

    I agree with what you’ve said here. We didn’t teach our oldest to read. We helped her sound out words when she asked. One day, she was just pretty much up, and reading everything. We still help her pronounce words that she first reads with an incorrect pronunciation, and we ask her if she knows what an unfamiliar sounding word means, but that’s a far cry from reading ‘drills’.

    During her brief stint in public kindergarten, the teacher did mention that reading was different than reading comprehension. Consequently, we started asking our kid to tell us what happened in the story she just read. It’s turned into a really fun, and useful activity to interact with her when she wants to read, (which is all of the time).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I have heard the same thing as what your father experienced. In the end, when someone learns to read is nowhere near as important as the fact that they DO learn how to read and are not intimidated by it. Thanks for stopping by!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. My son read on his own and I did nothing to “teach” him, my daughter was slower in comparison. Funny thing they are both bookworms and read before their peers. Why push? We stress so much we kill the joy. Thanks for these reasons!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. YES!! When I taught Kg, I was constantly enraged that I was required to push every child to be in the “green” by the end of the year! They were babies, that had the life stressed outta them!! (No Child Left Behind is an evil plot straight from the devil.)
    Thank you for standing up for your kids!!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I have very young kids, my almost 5yr old daughter has just shown an interest in reading, so I do lessons with her. My 3yr old has just gotten interested in letters, so we practice those through reading. I’m not pushy about it, I just teach stuff as they become interested in it. I agree with your article. When they are ready to learn something, they will let you know. Homeschooling is great in that way.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Truth! I was just having a discussion in a facebook thread about parents that “schedule” their child to read x number of hours per day. They are 3rd-4th grade and just now “becoming fluent” and the parent feels they’ve “lost that time” and now the child won’t read unless it’s “scheduled”. I struggle(d) with that whole idea. I feel when the child has the time to explore and discover that genre “that they love”, they will naturally gravitate to reading more.
    My son doesn’t “love” to read. But we found a couple series that he would stay up at night to read. Unlike his sister’s that read any moment they have available and read before bedtime nearly every night.

    Visiting from #BlessedMOMDays.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. My8 yr old son just started reading about two months ago. He has progressed so much more quickly than my kids who began reading at a younger age. He really enjoys reading. he reads to me, his siblings, and will often be found carrying a book around. I think we all get stuck thinking that we have to do things like schools do, and that just isn’t the case. Thanks for visiting!


  9. I wholeheartedly agree with you! Before now I was a big fan of starting early😅 while it works for some kids it puts off others…speaking as an educator, I see big changes when pupils needs are addressed individually.
    Good post, nice to visit you here.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Hi.. You have made wonderful points. With two kids, who started reading at totally different ages, I can understand how crucial it is, we (the parents) should give their own time and wait for them. An wonderful post to say.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Thank you for the encouraging post! I, myself, didn’t read fluently or ‘at grade level’ until I was 11. This hasn’t held me back in any way – in fact, I was on the dean’s honour list in University. I do feel all the anxiety surrounding reading in elementary school left some significant wounds on my self esteem. Even knowing all this from my own experience I struggle with remaining calm that my 7 year old isn’t yet reading fluently like her schooled peers. Articles like this are just the encouragement I need to relax and stay the course of letting her learn at her own pace! Many thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Believe me, it took a while for me to realize it, too. It was especialy hard for me because I read when I was 4, so at first I couldn’t understand what they found so hard. Finally, after quite a bit of struggling, the lightbulb went on in my head- thank God!


  12. Such great advice. My kids are teens and young adults now, and have different loves of reading. I agree that many kids are pushed to hard and too fast. Thank you so much for linking up to Funtastic Friday!

    Liked by 1 person

  13. I guess it is hard waiting, we all want to think our kids are smart (like us 🙂 ) especially if it is your first child. Two of my little people learned to really read near teenage years when they found a subject that they were really interested in. To explore the subject they had to read to know more. They are now both engaged in good, well-paying employment.
    Bloggers Pit Stop

    Liked by 1 person

  14. This is a great article, and after I’ve mulled over the many issues I’ve read about in homeschooling vs. public schools, it really starts to seem like, “Well, duh!!” I’m definitely un-washing my brain! LOL! I was reading a Peter Gray article about a study done in the 1930s in New York, or maybe New Jersey, where the superintendent did an experiment to see what happens when you put off learning “formal math” until 6th grade. He had a handful of his schools do this, although they substituted class discussions during what would have been math time, including math principles discussed in a real-world context, like counting, measuring, etc. When these children were then introduced to formal math in 6th grade, they caught up within a few months to the other children who had been learning formal math the whole time. In addition, the kids not taught formal math during elementary were BETTER at story-type math problems then the other kids, because they learned math within a context of reality, and not just formulas that didn’t relate to anything concrete in their minds. Of course, no one else in education administration paid any attention to these proven facts. Very interesting.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Peter gray has some excellent articles on his blog. He’s very insightful. I’ve never read that one, but I have heard from other authors about experiments similar to this one with the same results. Thanks for commenting!


  15. Agreed! Lorelai has always hated reading. We found out – late – that she had dyslexia. Getting her to read was nearly impossible and not worth the battle. Lately she’s been reading daily. She’s even happy about going to her most-hated place – the library.

    Kids will do whatever they’re going to do in their OWN time. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

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