Sunday, September 21, 2014

unschooling reading

I hope to avoid this by unschooling.  I've taught numerous children to read using phonics.  It is a lot like this :)

The theory of unschooling is that children realize that reading is a way of acquiring information.  They ask you to read things for them in their pursuit of information.  You do.  Eventually you or their siblings get sick of reading things for them, and they hit a point where they really want to be able to read in the course of doing something that they love a lot and are being hampered by their lack of reading ability.  At that point (could be as early as 3, but often 6 or 7, or as late as 11) they learn to read pretty quickly and easily.

Elazar is 7 (2nd grade).  We are in the phase of me or others reading to him/getting kind of sick of it.  His siblings will read to him if they aren't busy.  And I will read to him but he often has to wait until I can get there.  He can kind of sometimes sound things out and when he shows interest, we do that.  But mostly he does half of word or one word and then runs out of interest.

It will be interesting to see if unschooling will work with reading.  I feel pretty confident that it will be fine, and that eventually, before he's a teenager, he'll begin reading, learn to read within days or weeks, and be on grade level.  This is what I read occurs with unschooling reading, and I'm very curious to see how it plays out.

I suppose it's possible that a. he won't learn to read or b. he has a reading problem.  My sense is that he doesn't have a reading problem.*

If he doesn't learn to read (which I think unlikely), there are two approaches.  a. Teach him to read when I get too nervous to let it go on any further, in which case I'm basically in the same position I'm in now except that he has some extra years of maturity and can sit better.  b. Continue with the theory of unschooling that if he finds it relevant and is motivated to do it, he'll either figure it out himself or ask me or someone else to teach him.

*I'm not professional, but I've taught kindergarten and first grade many times, and actually worked with a range of children who were considered to have learning difficulties (as a homeschooler, I tend to take the approach that the child is fine, we just have to figure out how s/he learns and tailor the teaching) that I've successfully gotten reading.  Actually, since I've gotten paid for it, that actually does make me a professional.  What I mean is that I haven't received a degree in special ed.


  1. I am wondering about teaching him to read when he is much older. For younger kids, they use easy readers with controlled phonics, vocabulary and interesting topics which are on a level of 4-6 year old. I suppose there are remedial readers for grown-ups, but it would be hard to find something which is 1. interesting; 2. presupposes normal adult mental capacity; 3. has controlled spelling and vocabulary.
    I agree that 7 is still within a normal range not to worry too much about reading, but I would not wait till he is a grown-up and handicapped.
    It is also possible that there are wonderful resources out there, and it is not a problem to learn to read as an adult.

  2. With unschooling, when they learn to read at an older age, they gravitate towards reading material on their grade level and use that to learn to read. It supposedly can skip the steps of controlled phonics. And obviously their vocabulary is greater at an older age. I don't think it would be a problem.

  3. it's january 2016, now, 1.5 yrs after this post was written, and it is interesting to note that what i thought regarding vocabulary/remedial reading is true: unschoolers do not need controlled phonics and remedial level readers. the brain capacity is older and they read sophisticated vocabulary as beginners.