Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Boy Aged 4 Not Reading Yet

On a homeschool chat list a mother expressed worry that her four year old son has a great time playing but has no interest in learning to read. She asked about teaching a four year old to read, and curriculums.

Others have responded, most were in the "don't worry they will learn to read even if they are 12 when it happens, they will be okay" camp.

Here is my response:

Learning to read is portayed as such a big deal in America regarding pushing it on really little kids (like the teach baby to read commercials). I felt the pressure when my oldest was a preschooler. I read a lot about teaching reading and decided on methods I felt seemed right (i.e. the phonics vs. sight reading methods).

I was fine for that period of ime as I had a plan and was waiting for the timing to be right for reading readiness. I was an unschooler then and we did lots of great stuff that didn’t look like formal schooling in the age 4 prek homeschool year.

When my oldest was 5 and I started in on lessons (in the Kindergarten year) because I felt pressure from relatives. It didn’t go so smoothly despite all the signs of reading readiness being present. I was freaking out for a good part of that year. I bided the time by buying one curriculum after another thinking if I found the right one some magic would happen and reading would click. Well it all clicked in February of that year (child was still 5 years old then) with one curriculum that formerly I’d labeled as “obviously not a good fit”. (It was the child that was not ready, it was not the curriculum being a bad fit.)

In that time of unease, I got good face to face support at one particular HS support meeting in which I was moved to tears and it’s not me to do that. I understand your concern, I won’t downplay your feelings...

I was never on the bandwagon of “they’ll learn someday and don’t worry if they are 8, 9, 10 or older when they read” so I won’t make that case (but I feel every family has a right to develop their own educational philosophy).

I guess what I want to say is I understand your worry with all the talk in America about teaching kids to read and how it’s so important and supposed to be so hard. Just try to be calm about it and enjoy your age 4 year with your child. They do grow up so fast. Do great stuff with your son and use your time that way. There is nothing worse than forcing a child to do formal lessons IF they are not ready.

Then again for the Kindergarten year 5-10-15 minutes of lessons for reading a day is NOT torture in my opinion even if your son finds it not fun. Hey they have the other 23+ hours in that day to do fun stuff.

I wanted my second child to follow the same footsteps but he taught himself to read 90% of everything by himself and after watching Leap Frog videos “Letter Factory” and that series. (I highly recommend those cartoon videos!) He begged for the Alpha Phonics curriculum so I did that starting in September of his age 4 year and was done in 3 months and decoding at a grade 3 level. So much for being relaxed about the reading, I was now being put down by other CT HSers for having a child reading at age 4.

The truth is, a large part of it is the child’s readiness. You CANNOT stop a child from learning if they are ready, they actually pick it up from the environment and it sticks.

Hang in there.


Kim said...

Great post! Are you familiar with "Teach Your Child To Read in 100 Easy Lessons"? If so, how would you compare that with Alpha Phonics? I'm trying to choose a beginning reading program for my just turned 7 year old. :)

Rob said...

two small nuggets gleaned from 25 years of homeschooling (with five to go!)

1. boys are different from girls
2. be patient

At this point I would like to cite my all-time favorite child-rearing advice book title:
"How to toilet train your child in one day"

The secret?
Wait for the right day.

Stay At Home Mom at Work said...

I agree. Those Leap Frog videos are fantastic. We have the one for Math too, and they are great ways to start it all up!

FairyLover said...

I have an 8 year old who still isn't reading much. I'm fine with waiting until the right time. But my husband is having a fit about it. He taught himself to read at age 3 and thinks our son should be reading well. The other day he asked me how he could possibly be learning anything if he can't read. We love the Learning Factory videos. I think when he is ready he will read.

christinemm said...

FairyLover, After my son's later struggle with a visual processing problem and by watching other homeschooled (and schooled) children I know struggle with various learning disabilities the one caution I give you is know some signs of LDs and see if your child has any. Hopefully not. The fact is some delayed readers who do not learn from being taught to read actually have various LDs that can be FIXED. I hope your child is not one of them.

I have a soft place in my heart for kids with LDs and feel all of them deserve to be checked and diagnosed if they do have one, and then to get right treatment, help or whatever it is they need to help them along in life.