When Reading Doesn’t Happen on Schedule!

The end of my first year of homeschooling was a wonderful and frustrating experience. My dear daughter had learned wonderfully growing in manners, physical abilities, and math. However she did not grow in reading. I was stumped. Why? Was I a bad teacher? Did I not get the right curriculum? What had I done wrong?

These fears were held close to my heart. I didn't want to share with other homeschooling moms thinking they would give me 'the look'. You know the 'who let the weird lady in' look. I didn't want to tell them that despite repeated efforts my child just couldn't grasp the basics of reading.

I went on a quest spending extra money to find the perfect book, or program that would teach my child reading. I quietly began reading books about late readers. I reread the books on perfect homeschooling families that I was desperate to be like. I looked outside the home for any help I could find, except asking those around me because I was embarrassed.

Years later I look back at myself and want to hug myself. I want to say, calm down. Quit looking away from home and look to your home for the answers. I needed to stop and see my daughter, all her lovely strengthens and weaknesses. I needed to understand that children grow and develop understanding on God's time table not mine and not the school board's.

My daughter needed time. In fact she needed years of persistent, gentle help reading. She is dyslexic like several members of the family. I also discovered that my daughter would move ahead in fits and spurts not aligned with an age/grade level system. Along the way we turned a corner from struggling for every word to a slow halting reading. We are now working on fluency so she will be more at ease with reading.

My joy however is not her reading ability. My joy is she still enjoys the written word. It may come harder for her than most but if she is interested she will read for pleasure. If you find yourself in this situation here are a few tips that might make your journey easier.

  • Look to your child for signs of reading readiness, do not get stuck on their age. They know their alphabet. They can hear rhyming words. They can hear the first sound in a word.
  • Find a support group of special needs homeschoolers, either near you or online. You are not alone! Many kids start off slower than we have been lead to believe is "normal" for reading. It's the joy of reading that we need to carefully guard from overly pushing time-lines.
  • There are special programs available to help with reading learning disabilities. If you feel your child has a learning disability and you don't feel comfortable working with it there are options available. I would ask an educator or evaluator that is familiar with your child. You might only need some focused help for a couple of months to start off on the right path.
  • As you are working through strengthening your child's reading skills adjust their other material to a more audio based learning. Work everyday on your child's weaknesses to strengthen them. In other subject areas don't let weak reading skills hold your child back. Use audio versions of textbooks, read aloud the material to your child, allow your child to draw the science experiment rather than write the whole thing out.
  • Time is your best friend not a clock to be raced. Make reading part of everyday life. You read. You read to your child. You help them read. Think of it as every step brings you closer to your goal of an independent reader!

It is hard to stand against the pressure of making your child read at age 5. If you child is not ready than all you are doing is starting their learning career off on a frustrated foot. Focus on the foundations of reading, keep reading aloud to your child and you will get there!


Heather Laurie is a mother of 5 wonderful children that have a genetic disorder. They deal with a wide variety of medical and learning disabilities, such as 4 of her children have autism. If you would like to read more of Heather's articles please go to www.specialneedshomeschooling.com.

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One Response to “When Reading Doesn’t Happen on Schedule!”

  1. Laurie, I think you do a great job hanging in there for your precious children.
    Jeri Graybill´s last [type] ..Gender Gaps in Reading in the US

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