Friday, February 14, 2014

Late Readers...A New Study

Here's a reference to a very interesting study about what happens when (h/school) parents allow their kids to learn how to read at their own pace rather than following prescribed formulas, and what happens when children are considered late readers (after age 8).

Sneak Preview:  They learn to read anyway!

Parental Patience and Children's Reading


  1. Hi Ruth,
    I usually feel relaxed and secure with my unschooling and low-key approach to reading... then I read your blog, click on the article link, and find myself near tears with just the anticipation of some reassurance and validation. Whaaa. I have many cogent and much thought through reasons for doing what I'm doing, and in my heart I feel it's really right for my boys, but how could a parent swim so much against the current and not be scared? I think it's healthy. With every other call I've made or fear I've had, things have shifted and resolved themselves with the development time that was necessary. Anyways, I'm glad that there are others in the same boat. Would be great to commiserate in person sometime soon again.

    1. Thanks Tammy.

      You know, I'm working on my second, 6-month intensive Neufeld course right now - ALL about developmental theory, etc etc etc. I believe in the developmental process, I really do. In my head! My heart still often lags behind because it still, all too often, wants to compare to other families, other children, and scream with anxiety. My heart is still a little more comfortable with the more-commonly-chosen path at times. Although even that's not quite true...because my heart is also the part of me that is moved by seeing my kids begin to flourish as we continue unschooling, and my heart feels deep satisfaction that they're doing well and (at least one of them) starting to mature a little.

      I think you're right that when one chooses to go against the grain, it's both natural and healthy to question it and feel the anxiety of it. I guess, too, it's natural to want validation for the path we've chosen, and it's not too forthcoming in the world we live in.

      And acorn becomes an oak tree, doesn't it? Provided the right environment/conditions, it really does become this magnificent thing all by itself. We parents are the gardeners, the cultivators. Who sometimes still need a little reassurance.


  2. Hi Ruth,
    I think we are all "late" readers. We learn to read for our whole lives. It's not something we ever 'master' and there is no such thing as levels. It is a totally made up concept. We can liberate ourselves from it. It belongs to an industrial assembly line model of education that needs to be left in the past. Creating the conditions for children (and ourselves, and the world) to flourish, as you are courageously doing, should be of deep interest to us all now. Who knows what we could actually do then?! I just taught a grad class with teachers tonight. We read an incredibly challenging piece this week, that was 'difficult' for us all. Way beyond our reading level, ha ha. But we persevered and worked to make sense of it and what it means for us and our pedagogical practice and the stories we tell ourselves. Like you, we are working to free ourselves from the constraints that have been imposed by a system that never worked, but certainly can no longer work given the magnitude of the challenges that face us as a species. David Loy, the author of the piece we read, talks about the ways we are "bound without a rope". We love that description. We feel bound, but it is not 'real'. by developing awareness of the stories we tell ourselves, and the unconscious stories we live inside, we can be free. Or try to be! You are freeing your children from a very unhealthy story. They will be FINE. Better than fine!


    1. Thanks Jackie! You're always such a confidence booster!

      And what a perfect description: "Bound without a rope." I felt shivers when I read those words. Developing awareness of the stories we tell ourselves and the unconscious stories we live on the inside...that's taken me a long time to get there. I simply haven't always had the self awareness, or the courage, to do this. Some days, some weeks, I still don't. It's really, really hard to free oneself (at least, it is for me!) from the constraints of the 'system,' whatever that is, even though it didn't work then and doesn't work now. I always thought that h/schooling, in and of itself, was a radical way to go (and it is); but unschooling takes this to a whole new level for me. I'm still, several months in, trying to find my way, and imagine I'll be saying this a year from now.

      Interestingly, though, my kids ARE doing fine so far...even better than fine, of late.

      Man, I wish I was in your grad class (though I might not be able to keep up!) sounds awesome!!!!



  3. And here's a poem I read today!

    What If This Road

    What if this road, that has held no surprises
    these many years, decided not to go
    home after all; what if it could turn
    left or right with no more ado
    than a kite-tail? What if its tarry skin
    were like a long, supple bolt of cloth,
    that is shaken and rolled out, and takes
    a new shape from the contours beneath?
    And if it chose to lay itself down
    in a new way; around a blind corner,
    across hills you must climb without knowing
    what's on the other side; who would not hanker
    to be going, at all risks? Who wants to know
    a story's end, or where a road will go?

    ~ Sheenagh Pugh ~

    (What If This Road)

    1. Oooo, this brought tears to my eyes. Thank you so much for sharing it, Jackie. I'm going to copy and print it out and hang it on my fridge. Today.

      I'd like the title better if it were simply: What If

      Thanks. Ruth

  4. Also, Aidan Chambers, one of my favourite novelists and also education writer about literacy, writes about how he learned to read when he was 10 yrs old. (in his book of essays "Reading Talk"). He describes how this led to a lot of "gloomy meetings" at his school between teachers and parents. They had no idea that he would become an award-winning novelist and highly influential educator. But he did. I also learned to read in grade 3 or 4, just like him. I'm ok too! (although they didn't make me feel ok in those early years in school where they tried to stick me into the prescribed formula, as you call it. These things are violences. You are doing the right thing so this is your reassurance. I like your cultivator metaphor. It's a good one, about creating good and healthy conditions for growth. Metaphors are important. Schooling has been and is often too literal. The End.

    1. Oh no, not The End!! Never The End, Jackie.

      I don't remember you telling me before that you didn't read until grade 3 or 4, and I didn't know that Chambers was 10. Huh. That about fits with my Matthew, who is almost 10 now and who feels no pressure about reading, reading.

      (But he IS into inventing highly interactive games for the three siblings to play and he's created some fun ones lately (the two most recent being named "Minitaur - The Bull Man" and "Enter The Temple of Doom"!)! And he and a couple of friends yesterday created Olympic bobsled runs in the front yard and Matthew is apparently the gold medalist in that event, using our little GT racer/sled!)

      (Anyway, moving on...)

      Finally, Jackie, I have Chambers' book "Tell Me" on my nightstand, in the official queue! It's been many months since you first recommended it, and it's taken me this long. Beyond reading out loud to the kids and beyond reading content for something the kids want to learn about, I'm not reading that much else these days (sad sigh) so I'm slow on the books I've chosen for my own pleasure or learning. I hope that in the next week or two I'll be starting it. I'm excited, knowing that you love his writing.

      Have a great day, Jackie!

      I've just printed thet poem...heading to the printer now to fetch it.