If there is one thing I feel pretty passionately about when it comes to education, it’s that your child does not have to read at the age of six.
I’m not against children reading early. I was reading Little House On The Prairie books when I was 6. My mom was stressed, trying to make sure it was ok that I was reading such a big book at such a young age (this was back when there was zero homeschool support and she just made it up as she went along!).
If a child is ready to read by six, great.
If they are not ready to read, your homeschool world does not have to come crashing down.
Guess what? None of my children have read at six. Most of them were not reading well at 7. By 8 they took off, easily caught up to where they are “supposed” to be and all of them love to read.
Did you catch that last part?
All of them LOVE to read!
Isn’t that the ultimate goal?
We want children deeply invested in books, pouring over these stories that can change and shape their lives, inspiring them to great heights.
Our 14 year old son has checked out about every book on weather that the library has and read them over and over again. Right now he wants to be a meteorologist, and we have never done one unit study on weather together. He has gone through every Apologia science book for his grade level, and then read all these extra science books on his own time.
Why? Because he loves to read.
The amount of pressure that is on parents to have their children reading at a young age seems to be increasing. The public schools are not receiving the perfect test scores, so the emphasis is on early education.
What about letting them have hours of time to develop their mind in other ways?
Our six year old currently spends her day:
Playing (dolls, playmobil, blocks, pretend play)
Lots and lots of outside play
Listening to Sean and I both read aloud books to all the children together (currently reading Heidi)
Looking at picture books
Listening to books on audio
Horizons K math
We are slowly working our way through the Good and The Beautiful Primer level book
We also try to implement a 30 minute rest period where she is allowed to look at picture books in her bed.
I remember stressing so much that my oldest was not reading very well. He was a few months past 8 and it just was not clicking. I was in bed recovering from giving birth to our 4th when all of a sudden I hear him on the couch, reading to his younger siblings from a book. It literally happened just like that. From then on he took off. Now he reads so much that we have problems of making sure he gets all of his school and chores done because he will be distracted by a book!
It had nothing to do with me. It had everything to do with it being the right time.
Now obviously there are exceptions to this. If your child has a learning disability such as dyslexia, you should go get help and not let it go on for years and years. You know your child. Use that parenting wisdom that God gave you to discern if they need outside help.
For everyone else, take a deep breath. Try to not push your child to read just so they can perform for the grandparents and impress those people in your life who doubt if you can homeschool.
Let your child soak in the early years without pressuring them into something that could come much easier if you just waited another year.
So what does learning to read in our home look like?
When they are toddlers we sing the ABC song. They play with ABC puzzles. They watch Preschool Prep videos. They are exposed to the alphabet, but it’s not a big deal if they can sing the ABC song at 3. I think my 3 year old can count pretty well, but she can’t sing the whole ABC song. It’s ok. We try to read picture books, or just have them exposed to books by being in the same room playing while we have a family read a loud together.
When they turn five or six I’ll start some sort of formal education. I’ve learned not to delay math, so it’s a big priority for me that we start kindergarten math at the kindergarten age.
We did let our two girls use Reading Eggs last year for a few months, at 5 and 7. It was a big help when I was going through morning sickness and feeling like I wasn’t able to do much with them.
We are using the Good and the Beautiful Primer right now. After we finish that I plan to start on All About Reading Level 1. I’ve used it very successfully with my two oldest girls. While I love The Good and The Beautiful I don’t think I’ll use it as a stand alone for teaching reading, though it is designed for that.
We normally start All About Reading level 1 somewhere in their 6th year or when they turn 7. It takes us a year to work through it. With both girls I reached a point where they came to a mental block, so we put it away for a few months and then they learned the new lesson when we picked it back up again.
Once they get through All About Reading level 1, I move on to beginner reading books and progress through those. If a child is still struggling we use the All About Reading level 2, but if not we just do lots of reading aloud. Our 8 year old is just doing The Good and The Beautiful (which admittedly has a lot more grammar than I’ve ever used with a child her age, but so far I’m liking it).
I’ll freely admit that I struggle being consistent in sitting down every single day with my early readers and doing a lesson with them. That may be part of why it takes us a year to work our way through All About Reading level 1. I’ll also admit that I really don’t enjoy teaching a child to read. It’s extremely tedious, and very taxing on your patience. But the joy of seeing them finally connect the dots, and know how to read is such a blessing, and one I cherish experiencing with each of my children!
I put together a PDF list of our favorite beginner reading books for you all! Some of them are old classics that you might not be familiar with. Enter your email address below and I’ll send the list over to you!