It’s no secret that schools are raising their expectations of children at younger and younger ages. This causes a lot of stress! Stress for the children, who might just not be ready to learn a certain skill yet and stressful for the parents, who end up feeling like their children aren’t keeping up.
Children are being told when they’re only a 4 or 5 or 6 years old that they’re already behind. They still have 12 years of school to go, and they’re behind. What could be any more discouraging to a child than that?
When my eldest was supposed to start junior kindergarten, he was still only 3. And I fell onto the bandwagon of believing that he already should be doing “school.” I read tons of blogs with preschool learning ideas and even though I was only in my first “year” of homeschool, I felt incompetent. I couldn’t compete with these creative mamas who could whip up cute curriculum in their spare time..I couldn’t even manage to make the time to teach it! And even though her child was reading sight words at 4 years old, my son wasn’t.
I was committing the cardinal “do not” rule of homeschooling. I was comparing.
My expectations were set too high, both for my son and for myself.
Fast forward a couple of years, when my son was in grade 1. He still wasn’t reading. He wasn’t getting it. It wasn’t clicking at all. And he started to hate reading. I went from frustrated to scared, the day he blurted out “I don’t want to do this, I hate reading!”
I backed off of reading entirely and totally shifted my focus. A good friend of mine recommended the book “Better late than early” and it was hugely encouraging. If you can get your hands on it, I recommend it. It’s by Raymond Moore, I believe.
When my son was a bit more than 7, he started to be more interested in reading. I started doing reading lessons with him again, Charlotte Mason style. He progressed and was proud of himself.
And then suddenly, he was reading. Like, fluently. Overnight, it seemed. I had him read a passage for me one day, expecting him to at least slow down on some trickier words like knowledge and expect, and he flew through it sounding almost bored.
“How did you learn to read?!”
“I read my comics at night, after lights out.”
“Keep doing it!”
Yep. Not sure if that’s a parenting win or fail, but I’ll take it either way.
Schools are expecting children to be reading at 5 years old. Many children, especially boys, just aren’t ready that young. If you pressure a child to read before they’re ready they will struggle and learn to dread and hate it. But if you wait until they’re ready, they will astound you.
Now my son is reading. He’s even starting to read on his own, for fun. He’s voluntarily reading to his younger brothers and sister. He’s reading chapter books.
I had my son do this reading age level test just to get an idea of if he was on track or not. Even though he started reading almost 2 years after his peers, he’s caught up and surpassed his age in reading level. He’s 8 years and 1 month, and he scored at the 9 years and 3 months level.
Is your child a late (compared to school expectations) reader? If so, don’t worry! Some children aren’t ready until they’re 7 or 8 or maybe even older. It’s more important for a child to learn to read when they are ready and learn to love it, than to learn to end up hating it because they weren’t ready to read yet and learned to think of it as “too hard, no fun.”