Thursday, May 23, 2013

Who knew teaching reading was so controversial?

People, I have run the gamut of beliefs as far as schooling is concerned.  I won't go over them here because frankly, I'm exhausted from talking about them.  There is a shift in thinking going on in my head - I started out as a stressed out, frazzled mom with the notion that my son was just not getting it and would always be behind in school.  At every turn your child must do this or have this down or have this memorized because if they don't have it done by this time they won't be able to learn in the time allotted in this certain time frame that some abstract people group decided needed to happen.

From Learning to Read without School:

"For children in standard schools, it is very important to learn to read on schedule, by the timetable dictated by the school. If you fall behind you will be unable to keep up with the rest of the curriculum and may be labeled as a "failure," or as someone who should repeat a grade, or as a person with some sort of mental handicap. In standard schools learning to read is the key to all of the rest of learning. First you "learn to read" and then you "read to learn." Without knowing how to read you can't learn much of the rest of the curriculum, because so much of it is presented through the written word. There is even evidence that failure to learn to read on schedule predicts subsequent naughtiness in standard schools. One longitudinal study, conducted in Finland, found that poor reading in preschool and kindergarten predicted poor reading later on in elementary school and also predicted subsequent "externalizing problem behavior," which basically means acting out."
Seven Principles of Learning to Read Without Schooling
1. For non-schooled children there is no critical period or best age for learning to read.
2. Motivated children can go from apparent non-reading to fluent reading very quickly.
3. Attempts to push reading can backfire.
4. Children learn to read when reading becomes, to them, a means to some valued end or ends.
5. Reading, like many other skills, is learned socially through shared participation.
6. Some children become interested in writing before reading, and they learn to read as they learn to write.
7. There is no predictable "course" through which children learn to read.

I'm telling you folks this is a NEW concept to me.  It is really unbelievable that I am here and that I have reached this conclusion because I have believed that we must be on a system.  We must do things on a time table.  Then came my son - you know the one - the one that is dyslexic.  This kid that, even though he saw the number "9" everyday for 6 months could never recall it until one day he just could.  This boy who, even though I showed him what the color green was for at least a year, he still could not tell me what color the grass was even though I went over it with him

The Grass is Green

But then, one day, out of the blue he just knew the grass was green.  He just knew a "9" was a "9" and despite my constant efforts - he just got it.  So you know how I know my son will eventually read well?  Because I know my son.  I didn't just meet him in August.  I don't have him from 8:35-3:25, 5 days a week for 9 months out of the year.  I know the way he operates.

Of course my  husband is a straight down the line thinker so this way of looking at "schooling" is really new to him (and to me too).  We are compromising.  I am reading whatever book my son asks me to read to him.  Right now he is into owls so I got as many books about owls as I could from the library and we read them.  We listen to audio books although he can get bored with these.  I have him read everyday things like  his fortune from his fortune cookie.  My husband wants him to have a tutor - a dyslexic tutor.  I'm fine with that.  I wouldn't do it but it will make him feel better and that is fine with me.

My main objective is not to squash my son's love of learning.  Right now he just loves learning about things that interest him.  We have time to do that.

Reading to Him

An interesting thing happened the other day while I was at a baby shower.  I was talking with friends that I used to go to church with and one woman (whose son is my age) told me that he didn't like reading when he was in school.  So, being a good mom, she read his school books to him even up until high school and sometimes for 2 hours at a time.  Wow!  I was so excited when I heard this because I consider this person to be very smart so this was encouraging to me.  What a great mom - she didn't stress about it, she just found a way to help him.  Of course he couldn't take her to college so he had to figure something out by then.

I want my son to eventually love reading and I truly believe that he will once we have all decompressed from too many years spent in a school setting.

I know this way of thinking is "radical" to many people but I believe it is the wave of the future.  We will see it soon enough that kids don't have to read when a bunch of "experts" say they do.  We will be able to listen to that individual kid and they will show us when they are ready.

The Innovative Educator Dispels Popular Myths about Learning to Read and Write



  1. I love that you take such initiative with your kids- it is something we all need to do, whether our kids go to public school, private school, homeschool, or charter school! You are a good mommy!

  2. 4. Children learn to read when reading becomes, to them, a means to some valued end or ends.

    Yes! I have found this to be true. I think what you are doing by getting him books that interest him is a big step in that direction.

  3. I love this post! Very inspiring to those in the thick of of it!

  4. @Cristi Jo
    I wish I had known some of this three years ago.


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