Should I Let Children Learn to Read at Their Own Pace?
© Beverley Paine
A young homeschooling mother wrote and told me about her son who had just caught the reading bug. He was picking it quite easily and his confidence had grown to the point that he thinks he can read books that his mother considered too ambitious for him. At this point he would become frustrated, but refuse help with reading, or to have the book read to him. The mother was worried she would destroy the child's confidence if she pushed...
There are no hard and fast rules (or shouldn't be!) If we work with the child's learning styles and needs learning to read will be a lot like learning to walk, talk or many of the other things our children eventually master.
I learned never to underestimate what's going on a person's head. We can't begin to know what your son is doing when he's looking at a page. Even he won't know all the processes going on. If he feels compelled to have a go, let him, but let him know that often you tackle things that you're not quite ready for and sometimes you feel disappointed you can't do what you want to right now, but it's good to know that simply trying is part of the journey to eventual accomplishment.
Think of some examples to help him understand and cope better with his frustration: for me, it is being impatient learning how to different computer programs. I want to use the program now, rather than wait until I know how to. Knowing how to use it takes time, usually doing tedious things I don't want, such as letting others help me with bits I don't understand. Accepting help graciously will get me to my goal faster.
John Dewey, educator and researcher wrote: "Give the pupils something to do, not something to learn; and the doing is of such a nature as to demand thinking; learning naturally results."
Your son has chosen this task or reading above his ability level as something to do - trust in Dewey's words. Learning will naturally result.
I love the way children naturally test their emerging abilities. If left alone to experiment and test without pressure to perform to another's expectation or arbitrary schedule all will be right.
The Practical Homeschooling Series booklet Learning to Love Reading is useful and reassuring inexpensive guide to the early learning to read years.
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We began educating our three children in 1985, when our eldest was aged five years. In truth, we had helped them learn what they need to learn as they grew and explored and discovered this amazing world since the moment they were born. I am a passionate advocate of allowing children to learn unhindered by unnecessary stress and competition, meeting developmental needs in ways that suit their individual learning styles and preferences. Ours was a homeschooling, unschooling and natural learning family! There are hundreds of articles on this site to help you build confidence as a home educating family. I hope that your home educating adventure is as satisfying as ours was!
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