I honestly believe it is the kids who are pushed in school and labeled early on that end up with the illiteracy for life.  I believe it is the focus on our child’s perceived lack that causes the self-esteem issues that reduce receptiveness to learning.  That about summarizes this post but if you would like to read the long version please read on.

I am not one of those homeschoolering moms that can boast about my high academic students.  You know the ones – they make homeschooling okay to nay sayers and they are easily able to smile and marvel at how naturally their children learned to read – and usually early.

As I say – that is not us.  I have boys in the truest of form and the oldest two are late readers.  In that late reading world is much fear and questioning.  It is easy to get down and make rash decisions about the results of your choice to home school.  It is easy to doubt yourself as a teacher and as a parent.  It takes a leap of faith to trust your judgment and allow the learning to happen.

So I am here to say – it works, they will read in their own time and they will succeed in life (including literacy) as long as they believe in themselves.  Do not stress and do not worry.  Please do not discourage nor label them – unless you have other concerns.  They will learn to read and it can be as natural as learning to talk  – I am a witness.  Look at these pictures of my now reading 10-year-old – he loves his books and so much that these truly are not posed shots.

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I am going to share my story but first I want to encourage you to read about other late readers.  Google “late readers” and so many articles will come up.  Here is one http://www.leapingfromthebox.com/art/kmg/learningtoread.html.  As well educate yourself on boys and how they learn – they are often the late readers.  Above all else trust your dear child.  Learning does not have to be forced.  I honestly believe it is the kids who are pushed in school and labeled early on that end up with the illiteracy for life.  It’s the focus on their perceived lack that causes the self-esteem issues that reduce receptiveness to learning.

Paul always loved books and he still does.  He spent hours and hours looking at books although I am not sure that he spent very much time looking at the words.  Whenever we got into letter sounds and reading he was just bored and instantly resistant.  He was busy and he wanted to get going.  He had things to do and fun to have.  He had lots of energy.  So I let it go with the knowing that he loved books and eventually he would want to read them.

So I did not let it go entirely and I can guess that if I had pushed or presented it in a more fun, and creative way perhaps he would have been more on par with his “grade level” earlier.  Reality was that our household was a busy one in those early years and we just did not feel it was a big deal.  I had researched enough to understand that boys tend to need more time and certainly more time to let out the energy.  That being said bit by bit – when Paul was receptive we started looking at words and sounds.  We would do this in very short bursts and he would show interest for only a couple of days.  The thing is he would surprise me in that he would read bigger  and bigger words and more of them every time we revisited.

Our school facilitator was satisfied with the progress year to year but mildly concerned with the “level”.  Tactfully and respectfully she asked me if I thought a possible learning disability was worth investigating.  I confidently responded “absolutely not”.  I knew Paul was capable of learning to read and I knew that he was going to read and I knew that he was going to ALWAYS love books.  I did not want to destroy that love by the process of pushing it on him.  I was also genuinely not concerned and absolutely did not want to label him. It again came down to trust and fortunately she trusted me and so we carried on.

At the beginning of this year Paul was reading “below” his grade level.  This is evaluated by him reading a short story out loud chosen by the teacher.  On the test she said he could not read some of the words but could also read some of the higher level words.  Well that was confusing.  I think that she will be relatively shocked and pleasantly surprised at the result of another 9 months gone by.

Now I am not sure his actual grade level but somehow without any push or extra work he is reading chapter books that are filled with hard words.  He now reads his favorites science books, the “Bones” series and he can pretty much read most words I put before him (I habitually do this spot test when uncertainty sets in).  My suspicion is that he will be a life long learner and he will read above his grade level within the next year.  Whatever that means?  Though I will let you all know.  Naturally he was not ready and he was not interested.  Fortunately I home school and so he was not pressured.  I am saddened to think about all the boys going through our system now.

In summary Paul was not all that interested in reading untill the age of 10.  Prior to that he was exposed to basics but he was resistant and very bored – he could read but mostly chose not to.  I let him alone while he looked endlessly at his favorite books.  In school he would have been labeled.  I allowed him to be himself and learn at his own pace.  The first thing he really got into reading independently was his Mr. Noggin Space cards – “What element gives the sand on the surface of Mars its red color: copper, magnesium, or zinc?” Not easy/leveled reading – he did not enjoy Dick and Jane.  Who would?  If I ask him to read pages out of his favourite series “Percy Jackson” he can read with ease though he is not yet interested to sit down with that.  As I mentioned earlier he specifically reads his science books and otherwise really enjoyed all of the “Bones” books – he read all 9 in two days.

When I searched for other late reading articles I came across this http://www.sciencealert.com.au/news/20100401-20448.html  I think the ages they chose are “safe” ages and I do believe that no gap would show in readers that start at 10, 12 and 14.  I say this based on examples of other late readers including entire countries such as Denmark that delay the teaching of reading. If you know anything about Denmark they have a highly educated population.  I also notice that school age kids start to get really bored and socially pressured by this age and while this is going on the homeschooled tend to catch up and surpass.  Obviously not all but generally speaking.

Have faith in your little learners and please share your late reader stories.  It is sort of like magic and hard to explain how it happens but I think it is important for parent of late readers to have some support and examples.  I had so many so hopefully I am just adding another in.

Happy learning – learning ought to be fun.

“PERSONS attempting to find a motive in this narrative will be prosecuted; persons attempting to find a moral in it will be banished; persons attempting to find a plot in it will be shot – BY ORDER OF THE AUTHOR” – Mark Twain, front matter to Huckleberry Finn

I came across this quote and it affirms some of my thoughts about the Language Arts program and the dissection of books that my children read.  I would align in LA but for this reason “no”.  For the sake of determining “comprehension”  we bit the crap out of books.

As an adult and specifically I ask those of you who love to read – do you analyze and break down all of the components of the books you read or do you enjoy and let them take you away?  If we want to create life long readers – why do we do this in our schools?  I can understand for the sake of writing but why so early when they are only getting into the skill of reading.  Why not let them enjoy?

All beautiful creations and art – including great literature happens naturally through creative minds.  I think we would have better literature by some of those great creative people if we did not label them and turn them off at such an early age.