Reading Readiness Has To Do With The Body

reading readiness, kids sit too much,

Sitting down. (public domain by Jusben)

Today’s kids sit more than ever. Babies spend hours confined in car seats and carriers rather than crawling, toddling, or being carried. As they get older their days are often heavily scheduled between educational activities and organized events. Children have 25 percent less time for free play than they did a generation ago, and that’s before factoring in distractions like TV or video games.

Left to their own devices, children move. They hold hands and whirl in a circle till they fall down laughing. They beg to take part in interesting tasks with adults. They want to face challenges and try again after making mistakes. They climb, dig, and run. When they’re tired they like to be rocked or snuggled. Stifling these full body needs actually impairs their ability to learn.

Sensory experience and fun. (CC by 2.0 Micah Sittig)

We know that our little ones walk and talk on their own timetables. No rewards or punishments are necessary to “teach” them. Yet children are expected to read, write and spell starting at five and six years old as if they develop the same way at the same time. Academics are pushed on young children with the assumption this will make them better students. This approach is not only unnecessary, it may be contributing to problems such as learning disorders, attention deficits, and long term stress.

Studies that follow children’s reading instruction at ages five and seven find earlier lessons may damage reading development. By the time children reach the age of 11, students who were instructed earlier show poorer text comprehension and less positive attitudes toward reading than children whose instruction started later.

Literacy isn’t easy. It requires children to decode shapes into sounds and words, to remember these words correctly in written and spoken form, and to understand their meaning. Allowing reading to develop naturally or teaching it later tends to create eager, lifelong readers. Why?

why pushing school-like lessons hinders learning,

Children pushed to read young (not those who naturally pick it up) tend to rely on right brain processes because that area matures more quickly. These early readers are likely to guess at unknown words using clues such as appearance, context, beginning and ending letters. Their main tactic is memorizing sight words. These are valuable methods but not a balanced approach to reading. Such children may quickly tire after reading short passages or read smoothly but have difficulty deriving meaning from what they read. The procedure they use to decode words can make the content hard to comprehend. These reading problems can persist.

On the other hand, children benefit when they learn to read naturally or are taught later. That’s because, as the left brain matures and the pathway between both hemispheres develops, it becomes easier for them to sound out words, to visualize meanings, and mentally tinker with abstractions. They memorize short sight words but sound out longer words, an approach that is less taxing. As they incorporate more words into their reading vocabulary they more easily picture and understand what they are reading.

developing eager readers,

Developing eager readers (CC by 2.0 Daniel Pink

In order for children to read, write and spell they must be developmentally ready. Some are ready at the age of four or five, some not for many years later. This readiness includes complex neurological pathways and kinesthetic awareness. Such readiness isn’t created by workbooks or computer programs. It’s the result of brain maturation as well as rich experiences found in bodily sensation and movement.

These experiences happen as children play and work, particularly in ways that cross the midline. They includes expansive movements such as climbing, jumping, digging, swimming, playing hopscotch and catch, riding bikes, sweeping, running. They also include fine movements such as chopping vegetables, drawing, building, playing rhyming and clapping games, using scissors, and playing in sand. And of course there’s the essential growth that comes from snuggling, listening to stories, singing, trying new tastes,  enjoying make believe. Children are drawn to such experiences. Without them, they won’t have a strong foundation for learning.

how to boost reading readiness,

Play is related to reading readiness. (CC by 2.0 stevendepolo)

These activities stimulate the child’s brain to develop new neural pathways. Such activities also build confidence, smooth sensory processing, and create a bank of direct experience that helps the child visualize abstract concepts. Well-intended adults may think a good use of a rainy afternoon is a long car ride to an educational exhibit. A young child is likely to derive more developmental value (and fun) from stomping in puddles and digging in mud followed by play time in the tub.

There are many other factors contributing to reading readiness. Perhaps most important is a supportive family life where play, reading, and conversation are an enjoyable part of each day. But it helps to remember that young children want to participate in the purposeful work of making meals, fixing what’s broken, and planting the garden. They also need free time without the built-in entertainment of specialized toys, television, or video games. Their development is cued to movement. These bodily experiences prepare children for the magic found when shapes become words, words become stories, and they become readers.

raising eager readers,

Reading enthusiasm isn’t magic. (CC by 2.0 John-Morgan)

88 thoughts on “Reading Readiness Has To Do With The Body

    • Through my many years of experience I believe that children should be taught to recognise each letter sound as part of play from a very young age.done in a fun and playful way I do not see this can be of any harm and have yet to meet a child who did not want to play.
      As for reading everyone develops at their own pace, we are all ready at different times and have different abilities.
      Why is it that the reports have to say DAMAGING when they could just state IDEAL TIME TO READ. Everyone wants to make all these claims about a whole range of abilities and treat them as one. When they could just devise a system so that children are introduced when they are ready.
      I wish teachers were left to teach, that is what they are trained to do, only if they are struggling or need advice then they should be given it. the language used to guide or should I say criticize this profession is worrying to me. It has become that so many words are over used and alarming. Being a parent or teacher is stressful enough without all these reports with alarming claims.

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  1. So true. I have two children. The older one was pushed to read, and it is evident to this day that we should not have done that. He’s nearly 16 and he still has an aversion to reading, though his desire for information is overriding that dislike somewhat, thank goodness. To this day he experiences anxiety if he’s in a situation where he is expected to read aloud.

    My younger child was not pushed toward reading in any way – AT ALL – EVER. We played games, and I read out loud to her and played audiobooks in the car. She is 13 and she loves reading, and she is happy to read aloud with no problem.

    I wish I had stumbled on this information 12 years ago. :-)

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Reblogged this on homeschoolingmiddleeast and commented:
    Another great post from Laura Weldon. As a mother of a 4 year old I MUST avoid the temptation to try and ‘prove’ not only that homeschooling ‘works’ but that a more relaxed, ‘unschooling’ approach works by even mildly pushing her to read/write. I MUST, yes, take advantage of any interest but really, really be careful. I pushed my son to read faster than he wanted to (in order for him to be accepted into a different school) and although this worked technically it did NOTHING to encourage a love of reading and this is especially fragile with boys. I wish, wish I had done things differently.

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  3. I have to say I completely disagree with holding your child back from experiencing reading and writing till after 7. My I have years and years of experience in a relaxed fun learning Montessori classroom where children are GIVEN the OPPORUNITY to learn on their own and they CHOOSE to learn. They CHOOSE to read and write. All by their kindergarten year!!! Why hold children back from learning so much when their minds are soaking everything in. If given the right environment, prepared and guided through it in a manner that fosters independance then they learn to LOVE to LEARN! I challenge you to observe in a MONTESSORI classroom and see how happy, independant the children are and how they want to learn, want to read and want to write and can do it very well!!!

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    • I’m not saying at all that anyone should hold a child back from reading and writing. I’m emphasizing the vital importance of body-based development. I hope I pointed out in the post that children who do not naturally learn to read, which is fostered by learning opportunities and choice as you so amply point out, are different than children pushed to read. Two of my four children read quite easily by the time they were four and a half. Two did not read with ease until they were older despite the same opportunities. All four are fast readers, enthusiastic readers, and cannot understand why their peers aren’t drawn to reading.

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      • I agree my grandson was reading well before he entered kidnergarten because he wanted to. His five year old sister is not as interested in learning the words as making up her own words to describe the pictures and what she thinks is happening. My grandson turned 5 a week after school started and my granddaughter who will be starting kidnergarten in a week was five the end of July so ages are similar. They are just different children. If we push her to learn the “right” words do we wind up discouraging her creative ability at this time? They have both been encouraged to read.

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      • I understood your article quite clearly. I definitely did not take from it that you should hold a child back from reading, just don’t push them and try to force it before they are ready. I loved your article about body-based development. I homeschool my 3 kids for kindy (ages 6, 6 and 5) and this made me feel so much better about the choices we make in our day. By the way, one of my 6 year olds has been reading chapter books for a year now, she completely picked it up on her own. She has been an avid reader since age 4. We did alphabet and phonic games occasionally, when she asked, but she really did teach herself to read. My other two kids aren’t interested and I don’t push it! We just play and read and have fun! :)

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    • Agree – Montessori method is far superior to any other one allowing children free movement throughout the classroom and utilizing children’s natural sensitive periods for learning. Reading is introduced and picked up much faster at a younger absorbent (sponge-like) mind phase. By the time children reach 6 and 7, that sensitive period fades away and the ‘natural’ interest of learning to read may pass. Phonetic reading method is a must – it creates fun – reading and writing become exciting for kids when they make up own words – once again by moving the actual letters in a ‘moving alphabet’. And all that happening without ‘force’ or ‘cohersion’ or pressure ‘to learn’.

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      • These adamant Montessori-is-best replies surprise me with their rigid allegiance to the idea that only their way is best. Research does NOT indicate that a “natural interest of learning to read may pass” if a child hasn’t learned to read by 6 or 7. My post is full of links with more information. I try to present information in a way that accepts each child as an individual who grows into his or her abilities within the context of a family and community, not a peg to be fit into any one educational philosophy. Claims that one method is “superior” and that children will not flourish if early timetables aren’t met is simply pressure.

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        • Thank you as you have given me a challange to find the reasearch I have read in the past and always have it at hand. I do respect your opinion and do not wish to drag this out, but only to have a good conversation of a very important issue. I may not comeback to this one post after doing my research as it may take months or years to get accomplished in this busy house hold but thanks you agian for giving me the challenge. As it is like devending a faith; I often do not have the right sciptures to defend when the time comes up.

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          • It is like defending a faith; the same does not hold true for all. And insisting tends to turn me off; the same is true for all those who insist from a place of supposed expertise: they turn me off.

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          • Kansas Montessorian – You so turn me off with your faith and scripture about your superior Montessori method. I care even less about the “challenge” or the result of it. I know very little about Montessory, I may still want to read more about it if I come accross, other than that I have no motivation.
            As I just demonstrate to you, when pushed, people repel. You try pushisng your faith down people’s throat, they reject. Kids are no different.
            Laura, thanks for the informative article. I have a 7 and a 5. Each has her own learning style. I just read to them a lot. By 6, some thing just clicked and my older one started reading on her own. So happy for her.

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        • I used a Montessori-style approach in my home. My daughter started reading at age 3; my son did not make the leap until he was nearly 8. Within a year, he was reading beyond “grade level”, so while I love Montessori, I do agree that the observed sensitive periods are not exactly the same for each child. He had no interest in any of the typical Montessori early reading and writing activities; now (age 11), he reads hours every day. And he didn’t end up learning to read through the same phonics activities I had done with my daughter: he learned to read by following along while I read to him. He worked out the phonics on his own, something he much preferred doing over me showing him!

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      • I am always bewildered when people say “must” when it comes to educating children. For example, learning to read phonetically – my child absolutely could not do it. Phonetics made no sense to her whatsoever, it certainly was not fun, and the brief approach we made towards it was very distasteful to her. And yet, she taught herself to read by age 3, and at 4 was reading novels.

        (Ironically, and with apologies to Laura, she was not much into jumping around or moving. Very focussed child!)

        Seems to me that any time you say something is a must, you aren’t really giving a child freedom to learn, you are setting them up in a secret kind of cohersion. That is actually why I steered clear of Montessori methods myself.

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        • Totally agree on the “must” thing Sarah.

          None of my four kids were the frenetic moving types either. When they were very small they liked to crouch to watch insects, kneel to play Legos, stand on a stool to help at the kitchen counter, snuggle while listening to books read aloud, sit on the swing while I pushed, use a tiny broom to wipe up crumbs, paint pictures, play in the tub. I tried to make sure they had some large motor activities each day too, often a walk or climbing at the park. And two out of four were very early readers. These more subtle movements are just as necessary to build proprioceptive awareness, which is essential for reading and math success. There’s some wonderful information about this in the book “The Well Balanced Child: Movement and Early Learning” by Sally Goddard Blythe.

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      • I completely disagree that the natural inclination to read passes by 6 or 7, or that their “may” be a danger to that. I also disagree that Montessori is far superior to any other environment. It is one type of education, and contrary to what people may believed, a school saying it is Montessori doesnt make it so. The service mark for the name in not protected, so just about anyone can call themselves a Montessori school. There are lots of other private and charter school programs that provide healthy movement and a rich learning environment that primes a child for later learning. Just about every four year old “plays at ” reading, as ome will read at that age, however developmental science tells us that 4 and even 5 is not the optimal age for sustained learning. Read up on the research. There is plenty that shows us that early reading does not determime later success.

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      • I don’t think that you have to worry that children’s “natural interest” will pass by the age of 6 or 7. I have read studies that show that many children are not ready to read until they are 8-10 years old, which goes along with what this post says. All children develop differently. It’s up to us, as parents and teachers, to encourage them and help them when they are ready. My oldest daughter was not ready to read until she was 8 years old. When she was ready, it was obvious! Once she was ready she not only learned to read but caught up to her grade level very quickly. On the other hand, her younger sister is 5 and is reading already. My son, who just turned 8, has no interest at all in reading yet. He would far rather be outside kicking a soccer ball around :) All 3 of them learned their letters through hands-on methods – playing with letter magnets, making letters in shaving cream and jello, and other fun stuff like that, which I think would be similar to Montessori methods. Even though I taught them all the same, they are each developing differently. Just as this post says, they each learned to walk at different ages and they are each learning to read at different ages too. This is an excellent post, and a good reminder to me as I do tend to get a little stressed sometimes when I think about my son who is still not reading :) Thank you!

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      • “By the time children reach 6 and 7, that sensitive period fades away and the ‘natural’ interest of learning to read may pass.” This is just not true; research and anecdotal evidence do NOT show that there is just one window of opportunity, or “sensitive period” for reading.

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        • I’m so sick of people using the throw away “research says” to make themselves appear an expert. If you disagree with what someone says that’s great- it means we all may learn something. But both sides of the argument should cite their research (preferably RCT’s) if they really want to make a valid point not just share their opinion (which everyone is entitled to). But if it’s your opinion then own it as your opinion not making yourself out as Eddie the expert! Drives me nuts!

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    • I don’t think this article said to hold children back from reading! The article said that the age at which children are ready to read is so different from one to the next. It also said that children learn the world with their bodies through playful and meaningful activity, and that many children these days do not get enough chance to learn with their bodies. Therefore perhaps they take longer to be ready to read naturally.
      As you are lucky enough to teach and see kids in a Montessori environment, you see kids who are under less pressure from the institutions who decide when is the right time. It is very different in mainstream education, where more and more it seems like the children’s happiness and readiness for different challenges are less important than the institutions need to meet governmental targets.

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    • I don’t think the point is to “hold back” as much as it is to not FORCE. Surely in your years of experience you’ve noticed some children take to reading quite readily and love it, others not so much. I think the point of the article is for those who don’t take to it, don’t drill drill drill to the point that you have actually hindered not only their mental abilities but also their interest and love for reading.

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    • I don’t think she said to hold them back; but rather, not to push forward when they are not developmentally ready. My kids’ eye doctor told me that having my son play outside, a lot, was much more important than teaching him how to read. This was when he was seven. He stated that tracking left to right was still developing and it was better to wait.

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    • Just because little children are able to read at a very young age does not mean that they should. When a child is sitting at their own work station in a Montessori school, they are still working. It trivialises the real essence of imaginative play, which actually develops social intelligence. As you can guess, I am a Waldorf teacher, not a Montessori teacher. I have children in my class that have recently come in from a local Montessori school and they are lacking a lot of social intelligence and are often in conflict with others. Whilst one of the children can already read and write, it is all phonetic, even down to basic sight words. Whilst the Steiner children were engaging in imaginative, physical play, this other child was put to “play” at a “work station” and had little to do with the others in his class. Whilst the Steiner children are learning though pure imagination and movement, others are reading and writing. The question is, what essential human childhood faculties are they missing out on whilst they are encouraged to take on something so abstract at such a young age? Whether a child reads at 4 or 9, they will eventually learn to read regardless. Why take away pre opus childhood opportunities when they are so young? They are more likely to grasp abstract symbols and sounds once their sensory and cognitive faculties have really been nurtured anyway, otherwise it’s just a waste of time. I know that we teach on two different sides of the coin, but I urge any teacher to ask themselves “Am I filling a vessel or am I nurturing what each individual has to offer to the world?”. It’s not always about how fast someone can read or write – they may have so much more to offer the world if only they are nurtured with love so that they are able to find what that is. Reading and writing is only a bi-product of a truly wholesome education.

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      • Thanks Brenda. You’ve honed it down to a vital point when you write, “I urge any teacher to ask themselves “Am I filling a vessel or am I nurturing what each individual has to offer to the world?” ‘

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    • Nowhere did this author say anything about holding a child back from reading and writing!! In the article the author specifically stresses that if a child wants to start reading, by all means work with them. This article is saying that kids need to be allowed to learn at their own pace, and encouraged to experience all sorts of sensory stimuli. I am left questioning your agenda(or reading comprehension skills). Please read it again and leave your preconceptions behind. I think you will see the author is on the same page as what you espouse.

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  4. Thank you for another great post! Moving is SO important for reading and other learning as well. When my daughter was learning her multiplication facts I noticed that she would pace around the room, and if I quizzed her, she would jump up and down when she answered. When she took a quiz at school, well, that was quite different! Sitting at a desk, she couldn’t recall them as well. I’m sharing this post on Facebook–it’s so important!

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    • I see myself in your daughter. My mother used to call me a “wiggle wump” and “fidgeter.” Even while sitting still I’m told that I’ve got a foot twirling or a knee rocking. I think many of us need movement to help us think.

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      • Many of us have kinesthesia as our primary access sense – so we can’t do anything unless we move. Understanding that each of us are different and that people who are primarily visual or aural learners vs other types is critical in terms of ensuring that children are given the space they need to develop and learn. I am having a bit of a giggle at the Montessori mafia insisting their way is best. Steiner argued that the etheric body doesn’t develop till 7 and that therefore children shouldn’t be taught to read until after that – and this is the guy who developed biodynamic farming on his lonesome…so the Montessori method is by no means the only one. I think so many of these “approaches” are damaging for children. Conscious parenting is about understanding your child and working with them. Interestingly, at my daughter’s Steiner inspired day care, the educator mentioned to me that my daughter wasn’t doing anything for herself. She asked me to stop doing things for her at home in order to “make her more independent”. She felt concerned that my daughter might “fall behind” in development. My husband and I both have 140+ IQs and the last thing that concerns us is that she will ever “fall behind”. However, the educator was of course bringing her own “stuff” to her analysis. I told her that for my daughter, acts of service are her love language. My daughter had had me away for five days, and needed stitches in that time for a big cut. She then had scarlet fever and was quite sick…I thought that while she was better, she had still been through a lot and needed some extra cuddles. I had a chat to my child about it, and the educator agreed to give her some extra cuddles. Surprise, at the end of the day she did everything by herself without a second thought. When I hear stories of people following a dogma, or a set of principles, rather than listening to the child, and letting the child lead, I feel so sad. What are we all so afraid of, that our normal children in Western democracies who don’t have to worry about food won’t learn to read if we give them space and support? Is that really a thing? I believe children will learn everything they need to, when they need to. If we support them and understand them. When we, the dumb adults who have forgotten so much wisdom, understand that our children will teach us so much more than we can ever teach them, we will start getting it right. If your child resists something strongly, you need to look at what YOU are doing, not what they should be doing. It gets much easier when you start looking at it from that angle. Give it a whirl, and leave your dogma at the door. Your child doesn’t know about Montessori, or Steiner, or common core, but they do know their own truths and if you let them, they will show you the way. What have you got to lose?

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  5. …If you don’t give them the opportunities to learn, If you don’t show them first then you limit them to only what they see, hear and can understand. I know we learn from nature and the natural environment but wow what we would be missing out if that is all we were exposed to. Where would the world be today if it was not for intellect. How would our doctors know what they know. We learn from others. Therefor, teachers and talented moms are important in the most impressionable days of a child’s life giving them lots of opportunities to learn. and in my opnion a MOntessori classroom gives the most opprotunites a child could ever have in the most natural way possible thus creating the smartest happiest children on the planet:)

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    • I’m not sure what impression you’re taking away from this post. I don’t deride intellect. I’m not advocating turning a child out to learn from nature without learning from others. I am espousing a more natural form of learning, one that has worked throughout nearly all of human history. Children learn as they play, as they watch and imitate a variety of inspiring role models, as they explore and discover to find answers, as they ask questions and their search for greater meaning is facilitated, as they flourish in strong loving relationships, as they are told stories and tell their own stories, well, I could go on but you get the idea. This can happen in the home, in the community, and yes, in the most ideal classrooms.

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  6. Yes, but this statement you made…”Yet children are expected to read, write and spell starting at five and six years old as if they develop the same way at the same time. In fact, academics are pushed on preschoolers with the assumption this will make them better students. This approach is not only unnecessary. It may be contributing to problems such as learning disorders, attention deficits, and long term stress.”…gives me pause to worry. THey are expected to read because with the right learning environment and guiding them through such an environment they can learn on their own between 3 and 5 to read and write. Why not give them that opportunity. And no if not pushed they will not get attention deficits, learning disorders or long term stress. Look at the statistics, Given the opportunity and a PREPARED ENVIRONMENT and a TRAINED teacher to guide them they will love to learn:)

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    • If you click on the link in the paragraph you find upsetting it goes directly to an article I wrote earlier. I’ll add the links in the text for your convenience:

      Recent studies with four-year-olds showed, “Direct instruction really can limit young children’s learning.” It also limits a child’s creativity, problem solving, and openness to ideas beyond the situation at hand. This is true when the instruction comes from parents as well as teachers.

      As Wendy S. Grolnick explains in The Psychology of Parental Control, research shows that rewards, praise, and evaluative comments actually undermine motivation and stifle learning in preschoolers as well as school-aged children. Again, true when it comes from parents as well as teachers.

      http://www.slate.com/articles/double_x/doublex/2011/03/why_preschool_shouldnt_be_like_school.html#A

      http://blogs.babycenter.com/mom_stories/early-instruction-makes-kids-dumb/

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    • I am baffled at your repeated attempts on this thread to put kids in a box. YOu say “THey are expected to read because with the right learning environment and guiding them through such an environment they can learn on their own between 3 and 5 to read and write” . I have a 6 year old who is at the beginning stages of reading. He can already write, but he’s not completely ready to read, and I can guarantee that if forced, he would not want to learn to read. Right now, he has motivation to learn the skills slowly (and he is). But he is also a very active boy who can’t sit still, and I find that movement and play to be just as valuable (if not more) to him right now than trying to “expect” him to be reading.

      I also have a 4 year old who taught himself his letters at age 2, but he is still not ready to read yet. I swear he is the boy that will just come to us one day and start reading. But, I encourage them each individually in their own progression.

      We read lots together and we play lots together. We count items and money together. We add and subtract. We sing rhymes and play games. Why must we be so focused on just learning to read at this young age? It just seems so odd that we are so preoccupied as a country at making EVERY child learn to read by age 5. We are creating a lot of children who don’t enjoy reading by that model.

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    • Actually my child learned to read without anyone’s assistance. All she has is LOTS of books, Mummy and Daddy reading to her, and Mummy and Daddy’s example that we are always reading for enjoyment. If you force a child to do anything it won’t go well. I find it so bizarre that we put children in circumstances we ourselves would HATE and do poorly in, and then we are surprised at the failure. I understand what you are saying Kansas, but if you could only listen to yourself and see what I see…the weight of the expectation you have is IMMENSE for a child. If you put all that stuff in their way and they don’t learn to read till they are ten, it is really going to burst your bubble, isn’t it? I’ll be honest, the best thing you could do for your children is to own your own stuff, and stop putting it onto them. Who says they have to read by five or six? If they don’t does the world end? Einstein was considered a dummy in school. You know how that went. The way you can manage their stress is to manage your stress. Because it is just that, your stress. Children know they are perfect and amazing and capable, until their parents show them with their disappointment that they are not meeting expectations. Why burden them with that? Like another person here, I was a bit interested in Montessori, but your posts have really put me off learning anything more. Dogma is not the answer.

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      • Seriously? Jacqui, could you be more condescending??? Jesus, for someone who professes to be so erudite you really are quite narrow minded. There couldn’t possibly be another way to do things other than your own…. If you are as scholarly as you make out and you were interested in Montessori beforehand – just one person or viewpoint can change your mind??? Not a whole lot of evidence – are you really making an INFORMED opinion/decision?? Talk about the pot calling the kettle black.

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    • 3 year-olds CAN learn to read and write… but WHY would I (an ECE professional since the mid-1980s) sacrifice valuable hands-on learning time to teach them something 4 years earlier than necessary? I suppose I could have succeeded in college as a 16 year-old instead of waiting until 18… but at what cost to the development of my entire self? I give them paper and pencils and markers and crayons… they imitate the teachers and take notes and document… But it was never my idea… I just supply the materials that they seem to want to use.

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  7. Thank you for this post. I am homeschooling my 2 children and my 7 year old son LOVES being read to and is only mildly interested in his own reading and writing at this point. I wonder if early reading is pushed in school so that students are at similar levels and thus, easier to teach?
    The longer I’m on this homeschooling journey, the more courage I gain to let my children’s natural talents and inclinations unfold in their own time.

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    • I think reading is pushed in school because it’s an easily tested benchmark. It’s also the simplest way to transmit information, although young children (and most of us throughout life) learn more deeply when we do so actively, hands-on, directly from people who show us, and by the process of discovery.

      Unfortunately early reading is imposed in school because it’s the means by which nearly every other subject is taught. Textbooks, worksheets, and online instruction largely rely on the written word. So a child who may not be ready to read until he’s 7 or 8 or older gets farther and farther behind, is disadvantaged in every subject, and believes he “hates” to learn.

      In the homeschooling/unschooling environment, or in a Democratic school environment, this isn’t a problem. The child can continue to learn about all subjects in wider more direct ways, perhaps gaining an advantage over the child in the classroom whose education is much more passive. One of the links I shared in this post was to a piece by Dr. Peter Gray titled, Children Teach Themselves to Read. http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/freedom-learn/201002/children-teach-themselves-read Entirely heartening!

      Wishing you joy on your homeschooling journey.

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  8. Laura, I appreciate this post so much as well as your thoughtful comments. My five year old daughter is reading and takes so much joy in it. A couple of times in the past year I tried to be more directive, I guess with the idea of “accelerating” her learning, and she dug her heels in very quickly. This was a good signal to me to back off, which I did, and the joy returned rapidly, and her advancement in reading is obvious. I’m letting go, more and more, of the need to prove to anyone that she is learning or “on track.” What track?! Do I want her on a track, or do I want her to love learning? A track, or a unique path that is her own?

    I admire Montessori principles. I find it strange to hear a Montessori teacher espousing a one-size-fits-all approach (i.e., you must read on this schedule and in this way) when so much of what I’ve admired about Montessori has to do with allowing children freedom to explore, with lots of interesting materials and topics and areas to become engaged in– really recognizing the uniqueness of each child. At least that’s been my impression of Montessori. Maybe I’m wrong. I think I will need to take a closer look, because what I’ve read here in the comments disturbs me. Anyone who claims that their method is the “best” way, that their method alone leads to the “smartest happiest children on the planet”, and insists on the primacy of a “TRAINED teacher” raises big red flags in my book. However, the Montessori teacher raised one issue that I think is a tenet of Waldorf education: deliberately delaying reading until age 7. This feels as wrong to me as deliberately pushing reading before the child is ready. I can’t imagine for a second telling my daughter, “No, I won’t allow you to read, even though you’re showing me how eager you are and how much you love it.” I haven’t studied these methods (Montessori, Waldorf) in detail, so I don’t know for sure how their principles are taught and interpreted and practiced, but this is the impression I’m left with.

    Meanwhile I’m just happy to be an eclectic homeschooling parent, forging our own way that serves us best, neither holding back nor pushing forward.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Parents like you who are sensitive to a child’s cues, like your daughter’s resistance when you tried to be more directive about her reading, GET IT! I think children show us how they learn and grow best through their delight but also through their stubbornness and resistance.

      My admiration of Montessori and Waldorf methods isn’t diminished by the comments of a teacher or two. Both methods were groundbreaking for the time and have much to recommend them now. It’s my understanding that delaying reading in Waldorf schools (or Waldorf oriented homeschooling) doesn’t mean putting the brakes on when a child easily acquires reading earlier, it simply means delaying more formal instruction. This allows children who already are picking out words and sentences to go right ahead but doesn’t stigmatize those who aren’t ready.

      Like

    • So it’s really interesting about the Steiner 7 year thing, scintillating. I spoke to a friend of mine who is a highly qualified Steiner teacher, and she said that’s not meant to be limiting, that’s the age at which if they haven’t already started to read, their etheric body has developed and they can shown it. Pushing them before 7 is a big no-no. I spoke to her because my daughter started learning to read and reading whole books cover to cover at about 2.5 (she had memorised them by rote but it was still a bit creepy). I was wondering whether this could be bad, and she said, no way, if the child is drawn to it and does it, you can either leave them with it, or work with them on it, depending on what they need. But they don’t “teach” reading until after 7 to children who are not seeking to learn (maybe they are more focused on physical play or whatever).

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  9. What a wonderful article, I love to see people putting focus on the CHILDREN when it comes to education and letting them lead the way instead of chasing the latest fad (Pubic schools are as guilty of this probably even more so than homeschoolers). Most of the students I’ve taught are apathetic toward reading and some are outright hostile. I give them a 300-400 article to read and many act as if it is torture (these are high school students). I always have loved to read and even if it was something I didn’t enjoy I can quickly extract the relevant information so I always had a difficult time understanding how kids could come to find reading so abhorrent and comprehend so little of what they just read.

    I always get a sick feeling in my stomach when I see those “YOUR BABY CAN READ!” commercials where babies that can’t even talk are recognizing written words. All memorization, like with monkeys, but if you read the studies the monkeys always plateau at a certain number of words which is the limit of memorization ability. It’s hard to blame parents for wanting to give there children an advantage but that just never seemed natural to me. Thanks again for the good read.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s so sad to hear of kids who hate to read. I wonder if it isn’t just the form of instruction but also years of being assigned to read what they have no interest in, then being tested and graded on it. Imagine any one joy in life, then re-imagine it if it were fed to you via assignments followed by testing and grading. The joy would be wrung out.

      Like

  10. Hello Laura,
    I was introduced to your book by a friend of mine who homeschools and wants to do more unschooling with her children. Anyway, I love the unschooling idea, I really do. Here is my plight, my youngest son is 10, almost 11, and he is special needs. He was born early so has some learning issues. He is struggling to read. I have pushed him because I have state requirements to meet and am leary to take his portfolio to be assessed to a teacher with no “reading” in it. He is MISERABLE. He yawns when he reads, struggles, and has even cried. It is heart breaking. This article has given me the courage to just read to him and let him relax and enjoy his life. I hate seeing him miserable, and feel so mean when I say it’s reading time. He would be happiest if reading tiem meant I read to him and point to the words as I go. I am going to do this Mon,. and I am excited to see his little face light up when I do it with him. He will be full of joy. Thanks for this article. And as for the Montesorri approach that there is a window for all kids to be taught, my two special needs children debunk that, what about them. My youngest, was born at 1lbs. 8 oz., that has it effects. He is not ready to read at 10 even, let alone when he was younger and in public school and they tried to push him. He can read ok, but he is MISERABLE. Was it worth it – NO, would I do it again,- NO. My sadness is, I thought I was doing it right, to teach him to read, but I will not push him any longer, starting Mon. he will be so happily surprised!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Please don’t take anything I say as gospel regarding the education of a special needs child. I do know that occupational therapy, which has a great deal to do with helping brain and body development to mature, can be a very important adjunct to any educational approach for children with special needs. Your health insurance and/or your school district may cover most of all of the costs once an assessment is done, even if your child is not enrolled in school. This therapy tends to proceed in the form of games, as well as large and small motor play. It’s entirely worth checking out.

      If you didn’t click on the link in the post, take a look at the article by Dr. Peter Gray, who studied the natural development of reading in homeschooling children. http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/freedom-learn/201002/children-teach-themselves-read I’d encourage you to contact him if you have questions based on his article, particularly that children do teach themselves to read.

      Another point. In my state, portfolio assessors only check to see that a child is working up to his or her ability level. Not grade level. You may want to check more specifically what your state requires.

      That said, take a look at chapter 14 of my book. It has lots of suggestions for encouraging while not pushing reading. Here are a few ideas:

      ~Transcribe stories or ideas your child tells you, or offer to write a description on a picture he has drawn. Read it back any time he asks. Seeing his words in written form is an important testament to the joy of reading.

      ~Send postcards home when you’re out on a day trip, even if simply on a field trip across town. Help him write or write his own sentences for him, describing something of interest you’ve seen or done. Then pop it in the mail. A day or two later it will appear in the mailbox. Kids love to get mail, even if from themselves, and it will encourage him to give reading a try. You can make postcard sending a family tradition, one that helps him remember the fun you have together.

      ~Print out family photos or cut out funny magazine pictures, then help him write humorous captions or create dialogue bubbles.

      ~Write your own rebus stories or notes (rebus means to replace some words with pictures). You may want to write him a short note every day, making about a quarter of the words little pictures. He may surprise you by writing back.

      ~Encourage him to listen to recorded chapter books. Don’t replace your read aloud time together, but do let him spend time listening to other books while he plays with Legos or draws. You’ll find a good selection at your public library.

      Just a cheery aside. My kids are teens and young adults. I knew plenty of their peers in school had difficulty reading. Being in school didn’t solve it, although it did turn out kids who hate to read. I also watched their homeschooled peers who were late readers. Plenty of their parents despaired, but every one of those kids not only learned to read (some as late as 12) but they are now enthusiastic readers. They’re also wonderfully successful as high achieving college students and/or working young adults.

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      • Laura, I am sorry I if I implied teaching my child to read is done and I’ll just read with him only. I reread my comment and it sure did sound that way. When I read this article it really hit home because my son is struggling in reading and I have really pushed him. So I was a bit overwhelmed when I read an article that goes along with my thought that not all children will read at the same age and not all will be ready to at the same time. His stuggles have been very hard and I just got ahead of myself commenting. I have doen extensive reasearch and spent hours looking for the best way to teach my special needs child, he has already surprised the Dr.’s with what he is able to do, when originally they said he would not be able to read because of the nature of his disorder. So he is exceeding expectations. I say this to ease any concerns you may have that I am going to just stop all reading instruction based on this article. I chuckle when I think how my previous comment sounded. So sorry about that. SO I am not going to forgo all reading instruction this article just gave me a little more courage to do it the way my son learns best and not the exact method PS uses, that is all I really meant. And today has been a huge success, he has been very relieved.

        Liked by 1 person

  11. Just a small comment regarding Montessori and Waldorf- I am not trained in either but I admire qualities in both – I think there are sensitive periods that occur (at least I’ve noticed with both my children – 4 and 15 mo respectively); however, I think the underlying message in both philosophies as well as the author (if I may so boldly assert) is ‘to follow the child’ – a very important aspect of M & W is freedom with responsibility (rthythm, routine, order) – and so it seems if we (as moms, educators, etc) are saying something should happen by such and such time it takes away freedom – give a prepared environment, give opportunity, give playtime, give yourself, give love – but don’t be fearful or anxious if things don’t go as you expected – ‘follow the child’

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Thank you for your article! A very good reminder in a world where children are increasingly discouraged from movement and creative play, and pushed by school and entertainment toward being more sedentary and following only what others say should be learned and played, rather than what fascinates the child.

    My brother is a good example of learning to read at a different pace, and the actual advantage that ended up being to him in the end. He is profoundly dyslexic, and at the age of 9 was still barely reading 3 letter words (he just couldn’t seem to remember any phonics, no matter how many times or different ways they were presented.) Because he couldn’t read to himself, he was always listening to audio books, usually far above the typical reading level of kids his age. So he had a huge spoken vocabulary and had “read” widely, including many classic books I doubt I will ever end up reading. Finally, with several reading intervention programs, he learned to read at the age of 10 or 11. Now, at the age of 15, he devours 500 page books and thoroughly enjoys reading. Meanwhile he still benefits from the knowledge and vocabulary that he gained while “delayed” b/c of dyslexia. Thankfully he was homeschooled, and my parents had the patience and trust to allow him to learn to read when he was ready, while at the same time never ceasing to offer him opportunities to learn in other ways.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Having been an assistant in Montessori classrooms for several years, I think I understand what the Montessori teacher from KS was trying to say – when given an environment that is rich in pre-reading activities and incremental steps toward reading, many children can learn to read with ease at a young age, without any feeling of being forced or pressured. Does this work for everyone? No – my older sister went through the same Montessori schools that I did as a child, and I was reading by 3, while she struggled for a good while with it, and didn’t really read with enjoyment till she was a teenager at least. But you are offering the child an environment that will encourage many pre-reading and writing activities (developing large and fine motor skills), pique their interest in reading, and provide them with tools to learn to read when they are ready.

    That being said, I do have to say that I have often wondered if it was really that good for me to learn to read at such a young age. I spend countless hours throughout my childhood and teen years lost in books (to the detriment of staying active and other things I could have been doing with that time), and I’m not convinced that that was the best way for me to spend ALL of that time. Doing a good bit of reading can definitely be beneficial, but I’m not sure but that I was a bit of a binge reader – my drug of choice. ;) And I discovered when I was 20, when my dad read The Fellowship of the Ring aloud to my family over Christmas break, that I had developed the habit of reading so quickly that I skimmed over most of the descriptions of scenes and character – I was missing a ton of what I read. If I hadn’t read so early, my parents would probably have kept reading to me (as they did for my other siblings who read later), and I would have learned more about HOW to read well and absorb the beautiful details, not just the plot.

    So I guess I would say that early reading isn’t an absolute good, nor is later reading necessarily a huge handicap, if kids are given the opportunity to learn in other ways, and not made to feel stupid. But there are many good tools out there that can help children to learn to read with ease when they are ready to do so, which is where I think Montessori is very strong. (A personal favorite for homeschoolers is the Primary Arts of Language program from IEW.) But, as the author pointed out, movement and cognitive development through play and being a part of the real life of the family are vitally essential.

    And now I am going to stop talking! :} But thank you again, Laura, for your interesting post!

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Pingback: Reading Horizons Winner and Reading Readiness | FIMBY

  15. Wow. Can’t thank you enough for this piece. Do you have any suggestions for a book or CD that could help us learn some clapping songs/rhymes? I read that link and am intrigued, but can’t seem to find anything that would teach us both the rhythm and the words/clapping directions

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  16. Laura, I really appreciate your post and the few others that I’ve just begun to read. I’m a homeschooler and my oldest, a girl, was 7 in April. I’m very familiar with the concepts of which you wrote. My children have a rich learning environment at home. We read, sing, talk a lot, dance, climb trees, explore, etc., etc.. My 7 year old is extremely imaginative and creative and loves good stories. BUT, she does not love to read. I haven’t pushed. We learned phonics gradually. Last year at 6 was the first year that we began anything “academic.” She can read. I think she’s probably pretty average for her age. But she dreads practicing reading because “it’s hard” and “no fun.” So here is my plea for your wisdom…I so want to respect her developmental timetable and not push too soon. But I do not want to encourage an attitude that we only do things that come easily and we don’t work hard at practice. I want to begin nurturing self-discipline and a good work-ethic. Practicing something new is often not easy or fun. How do you know if a child’s just not ready, or, if they are a little lazy??

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’ve been where you are Katie, and can practically feel the love embedded in your concern. We want SO much to do the right thing by our children don’t we?

      Reading has always been like magic to me. In fact I can remember being a preschooler watching older kids come home from school every day, wondering if I would actually be able to absorb whatever secret would turn me into a reader. That’s why, when my kids were at the pre-reading/early reading stages it was terribly important to me to keep reading from being a chore. I wanted them to be passionately engaged readers. I had no problem imposing other chores on them, real work that helped our family, and I am more sure than ever that this is an important way to build self-discipline as well as other vital character traits. (See how kids benefit from taking on household responsibility here http://lauragraceweldon.com/2012/07/25/how-kids-benefit-from-chores/) You can insure that your daughter learns the value of completing tasks that aren’t easy and instilling a good work ethic this way. It will translate to other areas of her life.

      It sounds like you see that your daughter is progressing in reading. And since reading is so cued to other, corresponding maturation levels, it’s not valuable to push it as it might be to with other practice-based learning like doing lay-ups in basketball, for example, or playing the piano. At her age reading needs to be about delight. In my opinion, it’s valuable to erase all coercion from your reading time together. Clearly she’s resisting. Children are rarely able to identify why they resist—her eyes may easily become tired, she may feel pressured to perform above her ability level, there can be dozens of reasons which will ease up over time as long as she doesn’t feel as if she has to keep resisting. Read together for fun. Keep easy books around for her to pick up on her own. Occasionally read far enough in one of these easy books to get her engaged and excuse yourself for something quick (bathroom break?) and come right back. Don’t ask her, but she may have spent some time reading ahead on her own. As you read the same lines she read silently, you are reinforcing her reading skills. Talk about the stories and/or facts from a book later, as if they have sparked ideas or musings for YOU. Here are some suggestions from my book that I gave in an earlier comment:

      ~Transcribe stories or ideas your child tells you, or offer to write a description on a picture she has drawn. Read it back any time she asks. Seeing her words in written form is an important testament to the joy of reading.

      ~Send postcards home when you’re out on a day trip, even if simply on a field trip across town. Help her write or write her own sentences for her, describing something of interest you’ve seen or done. Then pop it in the mail. A day or two later it will appear in the mailbox. Kids love to get mail, even if from themselves, and it will encourage her to give read it. You can make postcard sending a family tradition, one that helps her remember the fun you have together.

      ~Print out family photos or cut out funny magazine pictures, then help her write humorous captions or create dialogue bubbles. She’ll read them over and over.

      ~Write your own rebus stories or notes (rebus means to replace some words with pictures). You may want to write her a short note every day, making about a quarter of the words little pictures. She may surprise you by writing back.

      ~Let her listen to longer chapter books on CD.

      ~ Make sure she sees you and other adults in her life reading often, for pleasure and information.

      Wishing you well Katie.

      Like

    • Laura gave you great advice, I would only add: change the medium you’re reading together. My youngest daughter sounds so much like yours. She too showed no interest in reading herself, until we discovered graphic novels. It all started with Calvin and Hobbes and the Babymouse books. We’d read them together and she was hooked, but since I couldn’t always read with her when she wanted, she had a powerful desire to know what was going on in those pictures and speech bubbles. Before I knew it, she was sounding out words, and coming to ask if that was right. She was so excited about the books she’s share them with her Daddy when he came home, and they’d chuckle together over Calvin’s or Babymouse’s antics. I’m not saying it will work with your daughter, but usually it’s a matter of finding the right book-hook.

      Liked by 2 people

  17. I did not read all the comments, so I’m not sure if anyone has already asked or said something. BUT the very first picture of the cute little girl in the car seat NEEDS to be addressed. Her straps need to tightened up and where is the chest clip? This is NOT safe way for her to ride in the car.

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  18. This is such a great article. Readiness to learn anything is a complex matter, and we can never know what kind of learning will lead to other learning. Learning was never meant to be done by breaking things down into subjects and step-by-step skills introduced on a schedule. It was meant to be done naturally by osmosis.

    One point that I think most, if not all people miss is, introducing reading, or anything, to a child who is not willing or ready, immediately places them in the position of failure. As you try to ‘help’ them learn, the real message they are getting is that they can’t do it, so there must be something wrong with them. That is why I believe many grow up not enjoying reading or believing that they can be good at it.

    A child’s mind is such a sensitive thing. We need to change the way we think about teaching. Teaching really only happens when someone chooses to open the door to learn. Otherwise, you are not teaching. You are just knocking on the door while it is being locked from the other side. Once it is locked, it is really hard to get in.

    Liked by 2 people

  19. PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE
    Change your car seat picture to one that is showing proper use.
    Children should not be wearing coats in car seats and straps should be tightened to pass the “pinch test” (you can’t pinch any slack)
    Also, this photo is of a European car seat but the rest if your article seems to reference the USA, so please use a photo of a 5 point USA car seat

    Like

  20. When you mention “studies indicate… “You have no references! Can you point me in the direction of these studies? I would love to read them! Thanks

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  21. A brilliant read. Thank you! This is an issue which is very close to my heart, sadly here in the UK, summer born children are expected to be reading and writing ready at age 4, all at the same time and in the same way! It is pure madness! I will be sharing your post in the hope that we can make a change to this outdated and harmful approach to early childhood learning.

    Liked by 1 person

  22. Reblogged this on Coffee and Common Sense and commented:
    Considering the struggle I have had with Ben this was well worth the read. Praying that I learn the patience to teach him how to read when he is ready to learn so that he will have a life-long love of reading.

    Liked by 1 person

  23. Wonderful article! My mom was an early education teacher, and she swore by physical movement and its correlation to reading. I kept her advice in mind with my own girls. I also realized very quickly in our home education process that learning to read is not a one-size-fits-all proposition. What works with one child may not work with another. One of the joys of living with and teaching my own children is that I can pay attention to those reading-readiness cues they present. I can only open the doors to reading: trying to force them through would have been counter-productive. But boy-howdy, watching them go through those doors in their own time, and seeing the delight on their faces when they realize they they are indeed reading is just…priceless!

    Liked by 1 person

  24. My parents taught me to read as a baby, using the “Teach your baby…” method from Glenn Doman. I learned to read single words at the same time as learning to speak them, and could read children’s books aloud to my baby brother by the age of 2. I am not a genius or freak. Learning to read early has done me NO HARM AT ALL. I am an “avid lifelong reader”, I have great academic skills (PhD in cancer biology). Now I am educating my own children. We have a house full of hundreds of books of all kinds and model reading in various ways – books, newspapers, and on the screen.

    The point I’m making is that saying “We must not teach reading until age 7 because it might damage some children” is JUST as bad as saying “We must teach all children to read at age 4″. The key is making reading a fun thing to do, and not pushing it if the child is not ready; being attentive to the needs of the individual child, rather than making them all fit to the one grade-school template.

    Recently I was encouraging my 3 year old who was taking his first steps in reading. He was sounding out the words on road signs while we were driving in the car. “You see,” I told him “once you can read you can find out all sorts of interesting things. You can learn anything you want to know.” The voice of my 8 year old piped up from the back seat “And reading is REALLY fun!”. Job done.

    Liked by 2 people

    • You raise a very valid point Cathy. Anecdotal evidence, but illuminating. My kids were early readers too.

      Glenn Doman’s method for teaching the youngest children to read was, if I recall correctly, based on very large scale cards with words relevant to the child that were used playfully and in very short sessions cued to the baby/toddler responses. That’s very different from an academic preschool setting, vastly different from today’s early grades.

      I hope my post doesn’t imply that children who are interested in reading should be held back, nor that there’s any certain age at which children should or shouldn’t be reading. My emphasis was on the ways movement and play are necessary for reading readiness.

      Like

  25. I am so happy I found this, for reassurance and for sharing. My son is 4, and homeschooling at the age of 6 is beyond thrilling for me. I just stopped scheduling educational workbooks on him, realizing that now is more than ever for him to enjoy being a kid and learn from his environment. There are far too many children going to preschool at the age of three and parents thinking and sharing that it is a huge accomplishment. My son may not learn to read on his own at 4, but he will when he can and he will do it by learning from his environment and from our daily book readings. Reading should be enjoyed, and nothing like learning should be forced like the way school does. I am a proud and enthusiastic first time homeschooling mama.

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  26. I agree with Cathy. I taught my son to read using the Hooked on Phonics program and he finished it at age 4 years and 3 months. He was reading at a second grade level when he finished it. He has been an avid reader since then (he’s now almost 14). I made it fun for him so he associated reading with entertainment. I have a Master’s degree in linguistics and one of the most important things I learned was that the human brain can learn things better between the ages of 0-5 than any other time. It is wise to take advantage of that time frame to teach children how to read and count (but make it fun!!). When I taught kindergarten, I always turned the lessons into games / songs / dances in order to encourage the five year-olds to enjoy the learning process. The next stage of development in which the brain learns at a rapid pace is from age 5 until puberty (around age 12). My son taught himself Algebra 1 when he was 9 and I signed him up for online Algebra 2 and 3 classes the following year through the community college. He just finished 8th grade and he completed a Calculus class. With all of his community college units, he’s also a college sophomore. I encouraged his love of higher math and ignored the experts that said he wasn’t ready because he wasn’t a teenager yet. I homeschool and I hear from a lot of homeschooling moms that children under 12 should not be learning too much or it may damage them. I am observing that their children are being damaged from not being allowed to learn. They spend too much time on video games and they can not spell or do basic math. The idea that teaching kids too early will damage them is nonsense. My son has always had a lot of free time to play with his friends and do sports, so I don’t think that you need to choose between playing and studying; they can and should do both!

    Liked by 1 person

  27. Thank you for this great post. I might leave my laptop open on this page somewhere my daughters’ grandparents can read it!! My six year old became an independent reader around her 5th birthday. She is a voracious reader, devouring novels for 11 and 12 year olds. Great. Horray for her. My almost five year old loves listening to stories, loves looking at books, pretends to read, and slowly, ever so slowly is learning to read. At her own pace. In her own time. Using her own method. Horray for her. But my husband and I face so much pressure from grandparents – why can’t younger child be more like older child? Why hasn’t she learned to read already. Even older sibling reading to younger sibling has been turned into a problem ‘Oh she’ll never learn to read if her sister does it for her all the time’. I love the time they spend reading together – magical sisterly moments! Of course my younger daughter will learn to read – when she’s good and ready. So long as we provide her with resources, set the good example of how fun and useful reading can be, then she’ll get the hang of it.

    I’ve just discovered your blog today…looking forward to exploring further.

    Like

    • Oh I hear you. One of my kids’ grandparents was convinced a certain grandchild would never learn math. My son was quizzed on math facts and regular visits were turned into spur-of-the-moment story problems. As if that wasn’t bad enough, I was told that he’d “never” learn his figures if he wasn’t forced this way. I was probably too patient with this particular grandparent, but there’s a positive side. I started digging into the research on forced learning compared to natural learning and came up with plenty of facts to allay the fears of well-meaning but far too intrusive loved ones. Here are some of the facts I dug up about natural learning as it applies to math, if you’re interested: lauragraceweldon.com/2014/11/19/the-benefits-of-natural-math/

      Like

  28. We get asked a lot how our kids’ reading is going. They’re learning…every now and then they bring us a book or sight words and ask us to do it with them. We do. But it’s their idea, not ours. (My oldest two are 6 and 7).

    But, mostly, they’re just not interested. They like to draw, run, climb, play more than anything. We let them (we unschool). Our family members do not always get it, it makes them nervous that our 7 YO isn’t a fluent reader. We’re trying to show them the research — thankfully they are open to learning!

    The importance of this hands-off approach was driven home to me recently when my 2 YO potty trained himself. I pressured my older kids some, and punished them for accidents. It took longer to train than it needed to. What was I gaining by getting upset? Anyway, I gave the 2 YO a choice daily of naked/use potty or wear diaper. Completely his choice. Eventually he just chose the potty all the time, with no encouragement and really very little help from me.

    Reading is going much the same way. Sometimes they choose to read. Sometimes not. My 6 YO surprised me the other week, sitting down and bringing me a book, and remembering quite a few words. By the end of the (repetitive) story, most of the words. One of these days he’ll be more reader than not, and then he’ll simply read. I’m okay with waiting.

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