Before I was a homeschooler, before I even had kids, my friend, Lisa Nielsen was running literacy programs in the New York City public schools. The first time I can remember thinking that schools were really messed up was when she told me that teaching reading in school is controversial among reading specialists.

Today Nielsen’s blog, The Innovative Educator is a great resource for understanding why kids don’t need to go to school to learn to read.

I did not teach my youngest son to read. He has been picking it up himself, often from video game instructions. Here are the arguments against teaching reading that give me the confidence to let him learn to read on his own:

1. Neurotypical kids can teach themselves to read.
My first son had minor dyslexia, and I hired a tutor to help him overcome that barrier. My second son entered kindergarten and brought home a list of words they needed to know by the end of kindergarten. He knew half of them. I don’t know how. But I knew, right then, that he did not need someone to teach him to read.

Some kids have learning disabilities and cannot learn to read without help. This is not true of most kids. Most kids are like my younger son. Some kids are not interested in reading when they are 5, or 6 or 7 or even 8. Educator Linda Dobson has declared that in a home environment where parents value reading and writing, “children will learn to read and write as naturally as they learn to walk and talk.”

2. Your kid is not going to be illiterate at age 17.
My younger brother didn’t learn to read until second grade, which was the first time he got tested. Then it was all hands on deck to get him “up to grade level.”

The thing is, my brother got a PhD in economics from University of Chicago. So it’s hard for me to believe that he would never have learned to read if no one had taught him.  Eventually he would have asked, “I want to read this, can you help me?”

Education professor Peter Gray, writes about how all kids will learn to read eventually, and that by age fifteen, one cannot discern who was a very early reader and who was a very late reader.

3. Reading class is a scam.
Nielsen says “The reason that kids need to learn to read so early in school is because in school kids read about doing stuff instead of doing stuff. When kids live life outside of school they actually get to do stuff, so it’s not as important to read about it in order to learn.”

Nielsen sends me over to the video Caine’s Arcade. It’s about a boy who build an amazing working arcade out of cardboard while he was hanging out at his dad’s work all day. Nielsen says, “That video is amazing because the kid is not spending his days reading and writing. He’s spending his days doing stuff.”

4. Reading extra early is a danger sign.
In my son’s special education class, all the kids were age three, all the kids had Asperger’s Syndrome, and most of the kids could read basic words. It is not normal to learn to read early, and it’s often a sign of hyperlexia, which is often paired with compromised social skills.

And it is certain that social skills are more important to a successful life than early reading is.

The teachers met separately with each parent and explained how dangerous hyperlexia is to a developing brain. A child’s social skills are developing at a rapid rate at age three, and if the brain starts focusing on words instead of social skills, the brain loses the chance to develop those social skills. The teachers told the parents to discourage early reading.

5. Reading out loud is a joy.
If your kid can’t read to himself then he will love it when you read to him. And that’s a treat. You get that intimate reading time for only a short span of your life with your kid. Why cut it short?

I learned from working in my family’s bookstore for ten years that as soon as kids can read themselves, they don’t want their parents to read to them. You never know when your kid will say no.

So instead of pushing reading lessons, just keep reading out loud. It’s the best possible lesson in why reading is important and fun. And the more tantalizing you make the story, the more your child will want to access the story for himself.

 

42 replies
  1. G
    G says:

    My wife and I co-sleep with our 1 year old. One reason I’ve heard that people don’t like this is because they say you need to teach your child how to be independent and how to get to sleep on their own. People ask us how long we intend to do this for and our reply is that we will probably co-sleep until our daughter wants to sleep in her own bed. This seems to be very upsetting to people, who are probably imagining our daughter in her teens and still in the parental bed. But if you don’t push it, kids like having their own bed at quite a young age. They like having something which is theirs.

    It seems to me that there is a correlation between co-sleeping and unschooling. I think this is because both co-sleeping and unschooling require a trust in your child that they will want to seek independence themselves.

    • karelys
      karelys says:

      Peter Gray talks about why there are so many fights putting kids to bed.

      Kids sleeping on their own dark rooms is a relatively new thing evolutionarily and in our society (since when people were rich enough so that almost everyone has their own room?).

      So you are probably onto something.

      What worries me about cosleeping is that mom and dad don’t have their private time together but I am sure that people who cosleep actually, you know, sleep at night and make time for sex before it is bed time. So there might not be much to worry about anyway.

    • CJ
      CJ says:

      We loved having both our children co sleep with us until they were each about 1. Our son gravitated toward his own room, own bed (crib we had made into a day bed since he didn’t use it as a crib) and arranged his own “friends” (varying stuffed animals, picture books, etc) and our daughter was such a tossed and turner that she wanted freedom to move. It was as if we annoyed her when we tried to get away from her dream kicks so she sought her own bed. But, as they went into toddlers/preschoolers, they decided “sleepovers” with each other was preferred. They adore their sleepovers several nights a week still (ages 6.5 and 8). And others, they prefer “alone nights.” We love this because my husband and I have an adult bedroom and the kids have their kid rooms. Everyone actually gets rest. But, my sister still has a ten year old that sleeps in her bed most nights and her husband goes to a couch! So I also get the warnings of a point where encouraging the independence is a good thing.

  2. Casey
    Casey says:

    This concept is great. I don’t actually remember learning to read, although I have always been an avid reader and my parents read to my brother and me a lot, so I’m sure I must have figured a lot of it out on my own. The book “Bringing Up Bebe” mentions that the French do not emphasize early reading–that it’s not even in their school curriculum until first grade I think. Rather they emphasize speaking and communication and learning to express complete thoughts verbally at that age. I think that’s probably a good idea.

    Long after we could read my brother and I enjoyed being read to before bed because our parents read long complicated stories, like the Lord of the Rings, that we never would have been able to tackle on our own.

  3. Zellie
    Zellie says:

    Our kids enjoyed bed time reading for a long time too. It’s fun to listen to stories aloud together and the child has access to things far beyond his reading level.

  4. Wendi
    Wendi says:

    I didn’t have to teach my oldest son to read either, he started recognizing words at 2 and read at 3. I read books to him(not anymore than average) and he just started picking it up until one day he was reading words in the newspaper headlines, which I knew he had never seen before.

    I dont have any expertise on kids who read early but I’d be cautious in saying these kids have hyperlexia or lack social skills. Early readers can be gifted(like my son) and they develop asynchronously. My son wasn’t very social at 3 because he was intense about his interests and still is, however now he is alot more social and has many more interests. Maturity counts for alot whether your an early reader or not.

  5. LS
    LS says:

    This is quite over-simplistic and under-informed. For example, there are many reasons children might read early, only one of which is Asperger’s. Many others are good indicators of typical or advanced cognitive development, and the age of developing early reading skills is most strongly correlated to exposure to language. The rates of reading disorders are more common than you’d think, especially user RTI. I’d hesitate to say “most kids” don’t have reading problems. Lastly, your anecdotal evidence does little to support your argument. You can’t be certain that, without extra help in reading, your brother would have developed the self-esteem and affinity for learning necessary for a Ph.D.

    • Penelope Trunk
      Penelope Trunk says:

      I wonder if the rates of reading disorders would go down if we didn’t make such a big deal about when kids learn to read. If we acknowledged (as Peter Gray says) that there is little benefit to being an early reader. And, if we acknowledge (as Lisa Nielsen says) that kids are better off doing than reading about doing, then we could wait a much longer time to ask kids to be good at reading. And at that point maybe there would be a lot fewer kids who had troubles.

      It reminds me of ADD diagnoses. It’s hard to tell if it is a result of school or if it’s endemic to the kid.

      Penelope

      • patricia
        patricia says:

        I absolutely think that the rates of reading disorders would go down if we didn’t push early reading. I remember hearing about a study (which I’ve never been able to track down again) that researched kids who were outside of a traditional school system and found that when left alone, the average age for a child to learn to read was eight. The AVERAGE age. I think back to when I taught third grade. The eight-year-olds in my class who struggled with reading were pulled out to work with specialists. They were already labeled as having issues. I didn’t label them that way, and they were able to function in my class just fine. But the system labeled them as behind.

        When I started homeschooling, I had it easy with my first kid. He’s very visual and taught himself to read by five. But the second two kids weren’t like that. It was hard to have faith, but I knew that the last thing I wanted them was for them to dislike reading, so I didn’t push. I read to them a lot and–here’s my secret for kids who don’t take to reading early–checked out lots and lots of audiobooks at the library. I’m a huge fan of audiobooks, as I think they allow non-readers to enjoy literature at a level that interests them, and all that exposure to words and rhythm eventually helps the kids with their reading and writing.

        My younger two both taught themselves to read eventually. They did it more slowly than their older brother–but they also listened to more audiobooks in the meanwhile and developed impressive vocabularies that constantly cracked me up. By eight they were newly becoming avid readers. If they’d been in a classroom, would they have picked up the notion that they were slow at that point? A crazy thought. After a year or so, both were reading at levels far above what someone would consider grade level. And both still read deeply and avidly, at sixteen and ten.

        One other perk about homeschooling: you can get away with reading aloud to them for years. I still read to the 10-year-old all the time and we both love it.

        • Patrizia Schwartz
          Patrizia Schwartz says:

          They would have picked up damage for sure. I pulled my then 7 year old boy from private school because he wasn’t able to read. The pressure school put on reading caused major insecurities to the extent that he thaught he was stupid even though he is actually very intelligent. At first we did school at home & quickly found this was making matters worse. Then I canned all curriculum & reading practise. Within 6 months he learned to read all by himself in order to play his computer games. It took over 2 years to restore his confidence although still is not near the confident little boy we first sent to school.

  6. Kat
    Kat says:

    I remember when I was younger (something like 8 years old), I was set to read a certain number of pages of a book each night. One evening I got really engaged in the story, so read ahead. The next day at school I got told off for reading the additional pages as it messed up the teachers planning. That put me off reading. Now I read a lot of non-fiction books/articles, which I don’t know if it’s an interest thing or something stemming from school.

  7. Julianna
    Julianna says:

    I think reading and times tables are a confidence game. Being among the first in the class to read or know the times tables, often means the kid identifies themselves as “a smart kid”. Capable. Self-reliant.

    That’s great. Being in the middle of the group is great too.

    The flip side is being among the last to learn. I wouldn’t want my kid to be the only kid not reading at 8. I wouldn’t want my kid to be reading magic school bus books when his friends are reading Harry Potter. I wouldn’t want my kid going to school with that weight on the shoulder.

    This is probably why my mom, a teacher, made us do flash cards early on and why I do with my kids. It takes three or four weeks to learn the multiplication tables if you spend 10 minutes a night on it. You can do it in third grade or stress about it for 3 years and do it in sixth. But I dont see the need for that kind of stress when you’re 9.

    I still read with my kids, readers and non-readers alike. We read after dinner now instead of before bed. We just finished Watership Down. That’s a really great one.

    • Penelope Trunk
      Penelope Trunk says:

      I think the confidence game part is right, but I think it’s for the parents. I don’t think kids want to stand out in school.

      I was a kid who read before everyone else, went to gifted programs, blah blah. And I remember feeling awkward that I was ahead of everyone else. I remember wanting to fit in, which must be normal for kids in elementary school. I also remember wishing I were not ahead so I didn’t have to be annoyed waiting for kids to catch up.

      So I guess I’m saying that I don’t think kids benefit from being ahead of the pack. I think it’s an unsteady place to be and there. Raising Ophelia is a great example of how girls, who are usually the ones who are ahead in grade school, are very uncomfortable being ahead. And I don’t think it’s a girl thing as much as a social IQ thing – fitting in is easier than not fitting in.

      I think it’s the parents who like to know their kid is ahead. It makes the parents feel confident. Not that I think it’s right or good, but I think it’s true.

      Penelope

      • Bec Oakley
        Bec Oakley says:

        My first son was an early reader and it was a huge blow to my confidence – I was so disappointed that he had taught himself. I’d been looking forward to that part! That was something I actually knew how to do :)

  8. Meg
    Meg says:

    Like many other things, until I came across anyone questioning it, I believed without question, the ideas that kids have to be taught just about everything, or else how will they learn it?

    When I started unschooling, with my firstborn, I felt really nervous, departing from all I had known (and hated, but better the devil you know), and was very antsy about making sure to “teach” reading to my daughter, beginning with good old Dick and Jane at 6.

    It was slow going and tortuous progress, at first. Eventually it became easy, though still a chore, and still boring. It was a requirement to get through, first thing in the morning.

    At first, I credited myself and my own diligence with the fact that about a year later, without any further reading lessons, she was reading everything from street signs to store signs to what I was typing on the computer, and spelling things to Papa wasn’t working anymore.

    Since then, having met and known some people who went ahead and let their kids learn to read (offering assistance when asked) uninhibited, I have come to compare it to many other crucial skills that kids don’t need a class in, such as learning to speak and walk.

    Naturally, some kids are in need of help in those areas, and genuinely so. But I agree that a lot of perceived pathology would disappear, if we could stop drawing a measuring tape so tightly across childhood development, and inching the bar lower year by year.

    My kids have all been flooding us with nonstop talking at about 3 to 4 years old, and each of them got the stamp of disapproval for not saying enough words by a certain very young age, and I notice the standards keep shifting downward.

    Most recently, I was given to worry that my 15-month-old son was “behind” in language development if he couldn’t speak at least a certain number of words. Apparently “Mama”, and panting to mean “dog”, and “yumma-yumma-yumma” for hunger, in addition to nodding yes, and carrying out complex verbal instructions, didn’t count. ?!

    I just moved on, knowing that from year to year, there are more and tighter standards with which to trawl more and more kids into perceived pathology. Not that I would want a kid who genuinely needed help, not to have it. But I did feel that not even a year and a half old, is pretty young to be getting in a tizzy over not enough spoken words, when it’s obvious the kid understands what is said, and can communicate.

  9. christy
    christy says:

    We both read to our 15-month-old. In fact, L brings us the books she wants to read. She has somewhere around 30 books on her shelf, and she actively chooses the book she wants read to her, often discarding several before bringing one forth.

    I know L will come to reading on her own (early or not) at least in part because we read to her. Every day. A lot. And, as she grows and can cognitively handle it, we will read more complex books.

    My favorite author (Madeleine L’Engle) read to her children until such time that their evening homework in high school precluded the evening ritual. She read Shakespeare, Chaucer, and on and on.

    That is what I want for L. Exposure to words and ideas that give her a breadth of options from which to choose her direction.

  10. Nicole
    Nicole says:

    This is an interesting perspective, one which I’m inclined to agree with. Unfortunately, it’s not something teachers and future teachers hear on a daily basis. What they hear is that the earlier you intervene, the better…which is why by first grade, kids are being sent out of their classrooms–during science and social studies time, no less–for “tier 3” instruction in reading–i.e., learning about letter sounds, which is about the last thing a struggling reader needs. Our language (English) has terrible symbol-to-sound correspondence, so we teach kids that this letter makes this sound, when in reality it may more often break the rule than follow it. (This is especially confusing for students whose first language is not English, and who were first introduced to reading in a language where the symbol-to-sound correspondence is totally consistent; e.g., Spanish.) And even if they can “read,” it doesn’t mean they’re learning anything at all. I’ve heard so many teachers say things like, “I don’t understand why this kid doesn’t get this–I know he can read!” Then those kids end up in special ed because they just aren’t “getting it,” so they learn to identify themselves as stupid, slow, etc. These teachers who are so concerned with students being able to word-call, but completely disregard the importance of comprehension; as long as they can word-call from a page, then obviously they can “read,” and if they don’t know the meaning of the words or the gist of the text (which they have zero interest in) by virtue of being able to call out the words, then obviously they have a learning disability. This is one of the many reasons that reading aloud is so beneficial; it focuses on comprehension before word-calling. Sorry, I’m rambling…

  11. Daniel Baskin
    Daniel Baskin says:

    I relate to your youngest son. I learned by reading “Nintendo Power.” I also learned to type more by playing Everquest (pre-Wow MMORPG) than in typing classes.

  12. MoniqueWS
    MoniqueWS says:

    I LOVE READING. I LOVE BOOKS. I SELL CHILDREN’S BOOKS.

    Our family tends toward the unschooling end of the spectrum. We all read a lot. We all listen to audio books a lot while doing other things – LEGOs, knitting, spinning, art, making the sextahedron cardboard house, etc.

    The eldest boy wanted nothing to do with reading for himself until he started to play Runescape and wanted to know what the other players were saying/typing. He became very motivated to read and asked to be taught. We used the books *Teach Your Child To Read in 100 Easy Lessons*. I like this method a lot for a child who wants to be taught.

    Middle girl child was writing (her nonsense stories) and making up stories and deciphering words on her own pretty early on. At 3.5 she eagerly asked to be taught. We tried. Not ready. We tried again at 4. Not ready. We tried again at 4.5 with the same book. She was ready and eager and took off in no time. I don’t think we even got to lesson 65.

    Youngest boy was content to be read to until he was 7. He was working some of it out on his own. Older brother and sister were using the *100 Lessons* book with him before I knew it. He now insists on reading to me every night. We have 2-3 books going at once. He bounces around between them from night to night.

    I love the Jim Trelease book *The Read Aloud Handbook*. It is an awesome resource for great reading and sharing of books. I still read aloud to my teenager. I read young adult books with my kids so we can talk about them together.

    My teen and I are reading the book *How to Read a Book* by Adler and Van Doren in preparation for some community college courses and just more adult reading. It is a resource on how to read on different levels, speed reading, critique and extracting the hidden messages the author writes into the book with metaphor and knowing a bit about the author and the times he lives in, how to read different types of books, etc.

  13. CJ
    CJ says:

    We love reading in our house. I would read aloud to my babies as I breastfed them both because I love to read myself and because it was so fun to watch their mesmerized faces at the changes in my voice. Our son was a very early reader and has had nothing but a love of stories and a vast vocabulary and our daughter is this great adorable story teller. She does basic reading but we do not push her at all because she is so great at telling/creating, we know the reading will flow when the time is right for her. Our only house rule for stories is we read the book with the kids before they get to see the movie, I.e. Hugo, Around the World in Eighty Days, Charlottes Web, etc.

  14. Melanie Wilson
    Melanie Wilson says:

    My oldest son was an early reader without any concomitant social skills difficulties.

    Despite not having to conform to a school’s deadlines for reading proficiency, I find a lot of homeschoolers are incredibly anxious about what they perceive as poor or slow reading. That’s a shame, because parents can inadvertently lead their children to hate reading–an indicator of their shortcomings. Most of the time, the child catches up quickly if read to (as you recommended). I see teaching reading the way I see potty training. You can kill yourself trying to teach it early or you can relax and wait until your child is ready.

  15. Julie
    Julie says:

    Now this is interesting. My oldest is now almost 8 and just recently “semi-maybe-diagnosed” with Aspergers. He started teaching himself to read between 3 and 4 when he sat himself at the computer and wanted to know what to do next. By 4 1/2 he could read anything and at 7 could read “on the 12th grade level.” No one taught him to read, but I read to him every night since he was a baby. I didn’t know that “early reading” was a warning sign until recently. He was in preschool from 2 on because I worked back then, so it’s not like he didn’t have plenty of opportunities to socialize, and he did. But I do have to say he has always been known as “the kid with the book” and if I had to guess at the truth of the Asperger’s I would say I do see the social ineptitude. OTOH he had IQ > 160 and I wonder, where is it Asperger’s and where is it “too smart and therefore odd” and is anyone ever going to be able to figure out the difference. I guess it doesn’t matter because you basically address it the same way, through social training?

  16. Marie
    Marie says:

    This post made my heart so happy.

    My husband struggled in elementary school and I was MADE for elementary school. He was a “slow reader” and I was assigned to the “fast reader club”. Needless to say, we have very different experiences of school.

    We have a one year old and (because of your blog) we’re always talking about what we want to do about Little Man’s education. One point we disagreed on recently was when to teach a kid to read.

    I think it’s odd to see 2 year olds read and it just didn’t seem right developmentally. My husband thought it was a good idea to get him started as early as possible in order to save him from the struggles my husband had as a 6 year old.

    I shared this blog post with him and we were both so relieved. My husband because he wasn’t “broken”. And me because I was right :)

  17. Larry Sanger
    Larry Sanger says:

    Just because a child can read early doesn’t indicate hyperlexia. Some kids are faster, and some kids–like mine–are deliberately taught to read early.

    The notion that early reading, by itself (not hyperlexia, but early reading), is associated with poor social skills is a new one to me.

    I think we should be encouraging children to learn to read earlier, not later. I’ve explained my views, with a great deal of research, in this essay.

    • MoniqueWS
      MoniqueWS says:

      What is the point of teaching a child to read early? Why the big push? I know why schools do it. You can’t be in a classroom of 20-30 learners who can’t read on their own and expect to get very far. What is the point of teaching a young child to read?

      One of the things that moves otherwise good readers away from reading is it is often the end of reading together as a family or parent/child pair. There is something magical in getting that one on one time, sharing a book and an adventure together. Kids often stop reading or stop reporting pleasure with reading when the parents send them off to read on their own or go do homework or expect kids to read without them.

      I read to and with my kids. When the kids (8.5, 12, 15) do the dishes at night I read out loud to them. We enjoy reading out loud together in a big snuggley pile on the couch or the floor or in a bed.

      • Larry Sanger
        Larry Sanger says:

        Unlike what Penelope Trunk says in the blog post, all of the research I’ve seen–and I’ve looked, in depth–indicates that children who arrive in Kindergarten knowing how to read very well enjoy a “head start” advantage for as long as the studies have been done (through sixth grade, as far as I know).

        If the child is being homeschooled then there is no curriculum or class to match pace with.

        I read more to my child than he reads to himself. I read around 30-50 minutes per day at mealtime (I work at home) and then another half hour at night. We tend to read more advanced stuff that he wouldn’t understand so well on his own, but which I can explain to him. But in addition, he reads an hour a day on his own, and sometimes more than that.

        In his case, having learned to read early improved his vocabulary, I think, and liberated him to read whatever he wants to, without asking anyone to read it to him. I don’t know, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he experienced some overall positive effects in academic achievement as well.

        In light of our experience, I think the real question is: if you can teach your child (in a gentle, respectful, fun way) to read early, why don’t you?

  18. Tanya Ziegler
    Tanya Ziegler says:

    I’m coming back to this article from a link in a future article (or some other meandering pathway, who knows). And I have something to add to the conversation.

    I keep hearing that a child must be read to a lot in order to learn to read.

    Well, I get to raise my hand as the exception to the rule here. Yes, my son has always had books. Yes, I started reading to him at a young age, but not a lot. He has had a few favorite books over the years, but for the most part, he’s never liked being read to to a great degree. And by a great degree, I mean he did/does accept my offers to read or asks me to read a story to him MAYBE once or twice a month, and it’s usually no more than 20 minutes. That’s very little reading.

    He is now 6 and has been teaching himself to read and write in the past year. He’s learning from his interests. He’s loved Thomas the Tank Engine since age 2. The first word he learned to read (and write) was Thomas, of course. Then he wanted to learn to write all the engine names.

    For him, reading and writing and spelling have all gone hand in hand, and I couldn’t separate it out if I tried. All I can say is that he loves to draw pictures and write captions for those pictures, sometimes illustrates stories. He asks his dad or me to spell words for him, and as we do this, he learns to spell and read more words at the same time. And, of course, he’s also learning lots of words from computer/video games.

    So it makes me wonder… Are we making up this rule that parents must read to their kids a lot in order to encourage the love of reading and the desire to learn to read? Or is my kid one of those exceptions to the rule? I’m thinking the former.

    I like this page from Sandra Dodd: (http://sandradodd.com/r/threereaders) where she describes the reading process for each of her kids. And I especially like this part about her daughter. “For fun she tries to walk around the house without recognizing any words.”

    I’ve read a lot about how other kids learn to read, and it’s helped me to see the learning pattern in my own child. And being able to recognize his process has allowed me to sit back, relax, and enjoy the show.

    I’ve come to realize that one of my greatest joys these days is watching a child’s learning process unfold. It’s magic. And it’s beautiful. And each day it becomes a little more apparent to me that they need our direction so, so, so much less than we’d like to think.

    And so I find my job is not to direct his learning, but to learn to back off and leave him alone so he can get on with the business of his own learning.

  19. Denise
    Denise says:

    Thank you for all these posts. My youngest two children struggle with reading. All of your advice and shared experiences are boosting my confidence in home schooling.
    I want to add that I read to my oldest child every night for at least 30 minutes. She was all the way through 3rd grade (public school) before she could read. The time spent reading had little effect on the pace at which she learned to read. HOWEVER….the child would spend hours upon hours writing! She is an extremily creative and the writing process is a breeze for her! She also scores perfect or near perfect on the reading sections of assesment tests such at the CAT.

  20. kb97
    kb97 says:

    I don’t agree with “4. Reading extra early is a danger sign.”

    I learned to read when I was 2. I read at a sixth grade level by the end of second grade, a high school reading level by second grade, and a post high school reading level by fourth grade. And guess what? I don’t have any more social problems than the average fifteen year old girl (I am fifteen, so it’s not like I’m 20 with the same issues as normal 15 year olds). Here is a list of the symptoms of hyperlaxia from the link you shared. A yes is next to those which fit me and a no next to those which do not:

    • A precocious ability to read words far above what would be expected at a child’s age — yes
    • Child may appear gifted in some areas and extremely deficient in others —- no (no extreme deficiencies)
    • Significant difficulty in understanding verbal language —- no
    • Difficulty in socializing and interacting appropriately with people —- no (in fact I make friends and keep them very easily and I can easily have conversations)
    • Abnormal and awkward social skills —- no
    • Specific or unusual fears —- no (I don’t think spiders, snakes, or heights (which I just got over when rock climbing) are unusual)
    • Fixation with letters or numbers —- no but I do love reading and I’m fairly good at math (I’m just not fixated on letters/numbers)
    • Echolalia (Repetition or echoing of a word or phrase just spoken by another person) —- no
    • Memorization of sentence structures without understanding the meaning —- no
    • An intense need to keep routines, difficulty with transitions, ritualistic behavior —- no unless disliking moving (I’ve lived in several places and gone to a lot of schools) counts

    Additional Symptoms:
    • Normal development until 18-24 months, then regression —- no
    • Listens selectively / appears to be deaf —- no unless “not hearing” (ignoring) my mom when she says to clean my room counts :P
    • Strong auditory and visual memory —- yes (I’m really good at memorizing things, but that may come with being involved in performing arts)
    • Self-stimulatory behavior (hand flapping, rocking, jumping up and down) —- no
    • Think in concrete and literal terms, difficulty with abstract concepts —- no
    • Auditory, olfactory and / or tactile sensitivity —- no
    • Difficulty answering “Wh–” questions, such as “what,” “where,” “who,” and “why” —- no (except questions like “What is the meaning of life?” :P)

    As you can see, I obviously do not have hyperlaxia, and I have no trouble with social skills. I have friends my age, friends who are younger than me by a few years, friends who are older than me by several years, and everywhere in between. I know how to interact with adults just fine. I am involved in many activities outside of school such as musical theatre, volleyball, and volunteering. My mom taught me to read when I was two because I asked her to: “Teach me the words mommy. I want to know the words.” While reading early is SOMETIMES a symptom of things like hyperlaxia, actually being able to read early is not what causes the social issues; it is merely a possible effect. And this effect is not necessarily a bad one, nor is it always caused by hyperlaxia or related problems. I, for one, am glad I learned to read early and have not had any problems because of it, unless you count being a year younger than the others in my class as a problem (I don’t).

    • kb97
      kb97 says:

      Sorry. I meant “I read at a sixth grade level by the end of kindergarten,” not “by the end of second grade.”

  21. Lara
    Lara says:

    I was homeschooled. I remember learning how to read from “How to Read in 100 Lessons” or something along those lines (my mother now attributes this book the reason I’m the one in the family who had a harder time learning how to spell). To her credit, I didn’t start reading until I wanted to, which I believe was at age 6-7, and I didn’t like reading until I was 11. And that was okay with her. Instead she read aloud to all of us, and we ate it up. The best part: we still all love sitting around her when she reads to us. It was bonding.

  22. Amber Winters
    Amber Winters says:

    It is after midnight and everyone in house is asleep. except of course me because I’m up searching the internet for ideas on what i should be doing to make my homeschooled kindergartener want to learn to read. I’m not sure when it happened but i got this idea in my head that she HAD to learn tp read this year. HAD TO. I have had non homeschool friends tell me she doesn’t and its not a big deal but I always feel like os because they don’t takey homeschooling seriously. I think “They aren’t homeschooling they rot understand or know what needs happen.” For some reason reading your blog made click. It will be ok. see can stilllearn (common misconception and mine if they can’t read they cant learn). thank you for reminding me that we homeschool so that we can choose how they learn. it doesn’t have to be “by the book”. or even with them reading a book. it will be ok. so thank you.

    • Amber Winters
      Amber Winters says:

      please excuse somen of my typos i am on my cell. i really can type and spell . :-) after reading this post i was just so strongly convicted that i had to post.

  23. Trevor
    Trevor says:

    Reading = mind development

    The earlier the better, you people are looking for rationalizations to not expend the effort to teach reading.

    I was taught to read words like, pat, hat, and cat at age three or four, and it was a fun game for me. I vividly remember it.

    People are not born smart or dumb, they are born sponges. The sponge works better, earlier. The earlier you start, the MORE EFFECTIVE IT Is a mind developer.

    I am 32 now, and the world is my oyster. With the internet and my reading COMPREHENSION, (something that develops better with an earlier start) I can LEARN ANYTHING I WANT. It is very cool and fun, and I would not deny that ability to my own kids, to dodge some EFFORT. So go ahead, let the “decide” when to learn to read, and maybe let them pick where to live and what to eat while you are at it, since they know best. Cause ya know, its easier and all, so it must be right…

  24. Bob Durtschi
    Bob Durtschi says:

    >>as soon as kids can read themselves, they don’t want their parents to read to them.

    Mostly because they can read much faster than you can read to them. OTOH I read to my kids through their teens. Only rarely and only with a special book. The last one: “The Hiding Place” by Corrie Ten Boom

  25. Monica
    Monica says:

    It’s hard for me to understand the negativity towards early reading. I get the point about kids who teach themselves, and how it’s indicative of a neurological problem. What I don’t get is why it’s a problem to spend 10 minutes at most a day with your 3.5 year old to teach them to read. It’s so quick and easy, and it doesn’t take a lot of time. I don’t know if you could tell if my son was an early reader compared to another child, but I know he is light years ahead of where he would have been had I not done things the way I have. I actually just made a video about it here…https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V3-ZLKptnyg

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