Okay, folks. Here I go! I have promised one blog a week per my New Year's Resolutions. Since this is the number one area I get asked questions about, we'll start with this. In a nutshell: children have varying levels of readiness for reading and writing. When you start too early, just because they have entered first grade, actual harm can result, and incorrect labels can be applied by well-meaning people, which have the potential for creating lasting harm.
If you have a late reader, ask yourself a few questions:
1. Does he or she love to be read to? If so, you have little to be concerned about. The love of being read to is a precursor to the love of reading, which is far more important than the skill of reading. If not, work on your selection of reading, and shorten the time. Find something really interesting. Example, for little boys, "The Mouse and the Motorcycle Series" by Beverly Cleary. Make it short, and if necessary, let him play with his trucks while he listens.
2. Have you considered learning styles? Some children will NEVER learn to read with phonics; others thrive on it.
3. If being a late writer/reader is a problem in places like Sunday School, consider avoiding those places until later on....They can sit with you in the pew for now and color and sing with the family during church.
4. Be very slow to diagnose....many times young children will have symptoms that could like like dyslexia when they are just being artistic. Two of mine used to talk about the "four types of Bs" (p,q,b, and d). They both made the dean's list in college every semester....after they finally started to read!
5. If they should really have any significant problems, in my (humble? not so humble?) opinion, it can wait to be addressed when they have their own motivation, typically around middle school.
If you are interested, I address these issues in depth on the 4th cd in the "Relaxed Homeschooling Workshop Series" (of cds). It is called "Reading and Writing/Children's Literature", and also includes recommendations of specific books/authors. It can be purchased individually, as well, from our website, www.archersforthelord.org. I plan to put a short free podcast on there in a couple of months, too...
Basically, chill out a bit! Read to them and have a full, rich life. The reading (and writing) will come when they are ready.