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Learning To Read Is Not A Race

So much emphasis is put on early literacy these days. Many school districts expect children to be reading by the end (or sometimes even the beginning) of kindergarten. While there is certainly nothing wrong with a child learning to read early, not all kids are developmentally ready to read at age 5, and that's okay. In this post I share several reasons why learning to read isn't a race.


Developmental Readiness

Kids all develop at their own pace. We know this when it comes to learning to walk, or climbing the jungle gym, or being ready for slumber parties, but it is often over looked when it comes to learning to read. Not all kids are developmentally there at the same age.  

Pushing kids to read before they're ready can cause a lot of frustration and resentment. It can destroy a child's chance to develop a love for reading by turning it into a frustrating chore. 

Reading Isn't The Only Way To Learn New Information

One of the reasons reading is pushed so early is to get kids ready for learning in the public school system where textbooks and worksheets are the main source of learning. 

As homeschoolers we have a great advantage in that we can offer our kids a wide variety of methods for learning. We can do more hands on learning, more field trips, watch more documentaries, read more books aloud, etc... Reading and writing are not the only ways to educate.

Let Kids Be Kids

Young children learn so much simply through play and everyday interaction with the world around them. Early childhood is a time for learning to be kind to others, learning to read social cues, developing good social habits, and developing muscle and coordination. Too much emphasis on academic learning can take time away from play and hands on experiences.

I read something once that said: "Employers don't care when you learned to read, only that you can". And it's true. In the grand scheme of things, whether you learned to read at age 4 or 7 or even 8 is pretty irrelevant. 


What We Can Learn From The Finnish School System

Finnish schools are among some of Europe's highest ranking schools but surprisingly, they don't start any sort of formal education until age 7. Before that emphasis is put on play based learning and arts and crafts.

This "late" start on learning to read doesn't hold students back, in fact Finland is one of the world's most literate societies. 

Pushing the expected reading age earlier, as many school districts here in the U.S. have done, hasn't done anything to increase test scores or literacy rates. What it has done, is destroyed the opportunity for many children to develop a natural love of reading.


  1. I wrote a post about the same thing a while back!! My daughter is 8 years old and her reading just took off in the last 6 months. So many people hounded me about her reading and questioned me all the time. I started our homeschool journey following the public school system and it seriously made my daughter frustrated and dislike reading. I backed off and let her develop more, now she begs to read books :)

  2. I wrote a very similar post when my youngest was struggling to read. My middle son taught himself to read at age 4 and my youngest couldn't have cared less about anything to do with reading until at least age 7 or 8. Then he skipped right ahead in no time and I know if we had pushed and pushed he would have hated reading.


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