How DO Unschoolers Learn to Read?
This Unschooling Guide is about how Unschoolers Learn to Read - without lesson plans, curriculum, or timelines. Wouldn't it be awesome to avoid the struggle of trying to teach reading to a child who often isn't ready or isn't interested? Unschooled kids do learn to read - yours can too!
Even if your child is already reading, this 25-page full-color guide contains prompts and suggestions to try and Q&As from real unschooling parents who have been there. This guide will also help you in your own deschooling process. It’s amazing how many conditioned ideas lurk in the back of our minds. Reading through this guide and following the suggested links may dislodge some of those ideas that are no longer serving you.
- Articles about Learning to Read from unschoolers around the world
- How to create a pro-literacy environment in your home
- The latest research on learning and teaching as it pertains to reading
- Practical suggestions on pre-reading skill development through play
- Ways to make your time with your child more enjoyable for both of you as they learn to read
- Resources, links, and inspiration for parents
First-Hand Accounts from Unschooling Families
LEARNING TO READ
AND THEN LEARNING FROM READING
JJ ROSS | COCKING A SNOOK
JJ describes the unique reading path of her 14-year-old son - and how he even teaches her a few things he picked up along the way.
HOW I LEARNED TO READ:
FOUR UNSCHOOLED KIDS, FOUR STORIES
JENNIFER MCGRAIL | THE PATH LESS TAKEN
Jen's children each took a different approach on learning to read, each in very different ways. She identifies the one big similarity that is ultimately the one simple answer to the question, “But how will they learn to read?”:
When they’re immersed and involved and allowed to explore a world that’s rich with language and words and letters…… they just learn.
I CAN READ, YOU KNOW!
PAM LARICCHIA | LIVING JOYFULLY
Pam's 9-year-old rejected early readers but enjoyed listening to audiobooks and family reading time. After a year and a half of not reading, the Harry Potter series captured her interest. Pam describes how she then went from not reading to "becoming a reader."
SANDRA DODD | SANDRA DODD WEBSITE
Sandra has an awesome collection of blog links and articles about individual unschooling families' experiences with learning to read.
HOW KAI LEARNT TO READ - A STORY IN PROGRESS
JO ISAAC | UNBOUNDED OCEAN
Jo shares how her son learned to read at 8.5 but also gives some helpful tips to other unschooling parents who are waiting for it all to unfold.
WHAT AGE CORRELATES TO A CHILD THAT LEARNS TO READ WITHOUT TUTORING?
JOYCE FETTEROLL | JOYFULLY REJOYCING
For most unschooled kids the process of reading is gradual. They build up their own sight words and morphemes. They figure out some phonics. The process is unique to each child. They figure out what they need as they need it.
Because of the structure, schools are limited to lecture and reading, and practice. We assume schools are using the best methods. But they aren’t. They’re using what works for assembly-line education. At home, kids can learn in any way that appeals to them. They can listen, do, watch, ask questions. Anything.
CHILDREN TEACH THEMSELVES TO READ
PETER GRAY | PSYCHOLOGY TODAY
Dr. Gray interviewed several unschoolers about the concept of learning to read without formal instruction. He concludes:
Seven Principles of Learning to Read Without Schooling
- For non-schooled children, there is no critical period or best age for learning to read.
- Motivated children can go from apparent non-reading to fluent reading very quickly.
- Attempts to push reading can backfire.
- Children learn to read when reading becomes, to them, a means to some valued end or ends.
- Reading, like many other skills, is learned socially through shared participation.
- Some children become interested in writing before reading, and they learn to read as they learn to write.
- There is no predictable "course" through which children learn to read.
THE BABY IS NOT "GETTING READY"
JOHN HOLT | THE NATURAL CHILD PROJECT
"But if he is allowed (as few children are) to continue to do it, to seek out in his own way and for his own reasons the meaning of written words, with only as much help as he may ask for; if this task which he has set himself isn't taken from him and replaced with a lot of fragmented and meaningless tasks invented by someone else and done on their command; if he is not convinced by adults (as many children are) that he is not able to do this task he has set for himself, to figure out what written words say, but must "get" reading from a teacher as a patient gets a shot from a doctor; if he is very lucky, and none of these bad things happen, he will be reading well in a short time, perhaps even in a matter of months."
WHY SOONER ISN'T BETTER
LARRY GARF | HEY QUIT PUSHING
Seven key points identifying how starting academics too early leads to mislabeling or even damaging bright well-adjusted children. Hey Quit Pushing is now available as a book at Amazon.
SCIENCE PROVES READING TO KIDS REALLY DOES IMPROVE CHANGE THEIR BRAINS
CATHERINE PEARSON | HUFFINGTON POST
"The MRIs revealed that children from more stimulating home reading environments had greater activity in the parts of the brain that help with narrative comprehension and visual imagery. Their brains showed greater activity in those key areas while they listened to stories."
FAMILIES READ WITH INNOVATIVE IDEAS FOR TODAY'S DIGITAL LEARNERS
LISA NIELSEN | THE INNOVATIVE EDUCATOR
"Nearly 40% of parents say their child does not spend enough time reading for fun but when you take social media into account you realize that is simply not true. Today's digital learners are not only reading like never before, they are writing too - using social media. And that's a great thing. More and more research shows this is an effective way to increase literacy among our youth."
READING INSTRUCTION IN KINDERGARTEN: LITTLE TO GAIN AND MUCH TO LOSE
Alliance for Childhood and Defending the Early Years
Awesome PDF concluding that Common Core reading requirements for kindergarten are inappropriate and not well-grounded in research. They address how children learn to read at various ages and should not be expected to read at a particular age.
THE READING WARS: WHY NATURAL LEARNING FAILS IN CLASSROOMS
PETER GRAY | PSYCHOLOGY TODAY
Dr. Gray writes about the various ways children learn to read, noting how even the most progressive teachers cannot implement any forms of natural learning in a school setting.
IF LIFE ISN'T DIVIDED INTO SUBJECTS, HOW DO UNSCHOOLERS LEARN ACADEMICS?
JOYCE FETTEROLL | JOYFULLY REJOYCING
Joyce does a fabulous job breaking down the questions parents have about learning to read, and then provides good insightful answers.
After reading these articles and blogposts you might have questions! If you have issues that you want to work through, maybe 1:1 coaching would really help you.
But if you'd like to jump into a big FB group to talk more about how your kids can learn to read through an unschooling approach, you can do that too! We hold an All Day Q & A on Tuesdays!