Four Homeschooled Brothers
and how they learned to read

Carol Brown
May 16, 2003

This was Carol's excellent response to someone inquiring about how unschoolers can accept late reading, and so the quoted paragraph below is not Carol, but someone who posted at [–editor]

I have been homeschooling for 17 years. I have four sons. I worried about the first one.

My 22yo (dyslexic I suspect?) learned to read at 9 1/2years, and continues to read for pleasure.

My 19yo learned to read at 8 1/2yrs and spends hours every day reading.

My 16yo (dyslexic? plus some other funny stuff with problems with colour?) learned to read over our summer holiday (without any apparent exposure to print during the holiday!) at 12 1/2 years. He won't read fiction, but does read factual books for interest and information, and is fluent.

My 13yo was born at home so consequently we know that he is a mutant rather than a baby swapped at birth! =g= He started being interested in letters and reading at three, and was reading adult books fluently by five, and continues to read avidly.

I think that if I couldn't spot the problem for myself, I might get vision etc checked - but only after the child expressed a desire to learn to read and was having problems. I tried to teach the first one to read when he didn't want to, and that caused problems, if not in the reading then certainly in our relationship! Number two wanted to learn to read so I tried to teach him, until he said, "This is too hard, I don't want to do it anymore just now". In the end, they all just started reading without any apparent 'teaching' or 'learning' at all, when they were ready! Only with the youngest could I see anything of the process - he asked a lot of questions about letters, words and language, and always watched the print as I read to him, while the others watched the pictures - or the garden - or the toys - or the.......

**Most children seem to want to be independent long before that age, being able to do things themselves, and not being able to read can limit them. **

They are also limited by their lack of height—but I'm not going to stretch them on the rack each night, to try and fix that =g=. They are limited by not being able to drive—but I wouldn't let a 6 yo drive my car to the library! Reading is just one of many things they are limited by. I have found it is better to focus on the things they can do, or can nearly do, and help where they want help, rather than try to make / bribe / tempt / cajole / whatever / them into trying to learn things they aren't ready for. And many kids, especially boys, but some girls too, simply aren't ready for reading until later.

The main problem for a late reader is the negative input from others. Homeschool kids can be protected from a lot of that—providing the parents aren't the ones exuding the negativity!


What a great response from Carol!!!

Other reading stories are here.

If you've already read that site, you might be interested in Radical Unschooling or articles by Sandra Dodd.

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