Reading: An Education Obsession

One daughter was reading at 3 and never looked back. She inhales books.

I just read and showed her books from when she was a baby.

I read a lot too, which she saw and wanted to copy from very young. She loved Peter and Jane books at a very young age and she picked up what all the words looked like extremely quickly (I was the same as a child.)

Traditional reading schemes
Traditional reading schemes

The other daughter has a fantastic vocabulary and loves language and words and stories, just not in a written / reading way.

Thankfully, as she hasn’t been at school, she has been able to learn away (to a certain extent) from the reading and writing obsession that is present in schools.

She has developed drawing, crafting, maths, creating, imagination and verbal skills, amongst others. She is gradually coming to reading and writing as a choice for herself, as she begins to see reasons why she’d want to read and write. her reading has suddenly come on immensely and she’s wanting to read and is getting excited about reading.

We think she may be dyslexic (there is a lot in our family) but we haven’t had her ‘officially’ tested.

I had times when I tried to push reading on her… to try phonics and sight words and have regular reading practice, but actually it works much better when I step back completely. I read to her a lot, and a lot of books which are a higher level than her age group and she is gripped. She will then read small bits from these books to me occasionally and willingly, and often she copes with the more complicated words much better than expected, and it is the small words that trip her up more.

Recently she asked to read me a chapter of a ‘Secret Seven’ Enid Blyton book… and read a chapter through, with very little help. This was a huge breakthrough and she is so pleased with herself and excited about it. We had her reading a chapter a day at her insistence for the last 3 days, reading out loud to me, L and S. She wouldn’t have wanted to read to all of us together before, so it was lovely, and all her idea. I see someone emerging who is very excited by the idea of reading now… aged 10. I am not convinced that she would have the same enthusiasm now if she had been forced into it.

Her writing will improve once her reading has totally taken off. I do have wobbles about it but we mostly manage to stay relaxed about it (there has been research showing that autonomously home educated children can start reading later, but once they do they soon catch up completely with their peers. This also seems to be the case from many home ed family chats in on-line groups.)

She does know that some friends her age and younger are more advanced in reading and writing but then she is more advanced in other areas.

The thing we love about our local home ed group is that people (adults and children alike) do not presume that a child can read and write, whatever their age and it isn’t unusual for a child to realise that another child needs help, be they older or younger.

She does have wobbles occasionally but I am hopeful that she doesn’t see herself as a failed reader / writer as she may have done at school. Yes, I realise that she would have had ‘extra help’ at school and might be further on with her reading (possibly) but would she be coming to the joy of reading on her own terms? And would she be starting with exciting teenage level books?

See: Coping with Dyslexia

The evidence again and again points to it being harmful to children to push them into reading and writing too early. Far better to let each child learn when they are ready if at all possible.

Links to campaigns to do with protecting childhood and articles about where education is going wrong.

Too much too soon campaign

Save Childhood Movement

A blog post by Laura Grace Weldon 7th August 2012

Too much too young for summer-born children The Guardian 2nd June 2015

Not Education, testing, testing, testing. Michael Rosen letter to Nicky Morgan MP in the Guardian 2nd June 2015

Radical shake up of EYFS needed to help summer-borns Nursery World 4th June 2015

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