This is a page dedicated to sharing the stories of right-brained children coming to reading. Typically, reading starts between 8 and 10 years old for right-brained learners. For some, reading can come at the traditional time of between 5 and 7, such as some right-brained girls, some of those with autism, and some of the boys who are highly verbal and/or gifted. For others, such as builder types, high energy types, and athlete/outdoors types, it can begin between 11 and 13. This can be tough to wait out, so I thought it would be useful to share stories of the process to later reading acquisition in particular, but for all kinds of right-brained readers in general. Please feel free to submit your story to Cindy at firstname.lastname@example.org. I would love to include it!
Over at Why Homeschool blog, there’s a post entitled, “School Would Have Ruined That Kid!” about two daughters who learned to read at 8 and 9, respectively. Considering that’s the “early” age for right-brained learners, the blog writer was quite panicked, as I notice so many are. I found it even more fascinating to read all the comments: stories teeming with right-brained readers. Lots of creative expression, audio books, and high interest books meeting developmental readiness for reading to take off.
(Julie shares her story about how her son came to reading over time. She makes a good point about the different styles of readers … pleasure, informational, and instructional … and gives value to why her son reads. I also like how she points out that they used the resource they found in a way that worked for them. Finally, Julie takes notice of the times her son shares his reading life with her and shows his competence, which allows her to know that he’ll be fine and to not put arbitrary minimum requirements on him in order to feel he’s a reader.)
It might be too early to say we have a “story,” LOL, but my son, now almost 11, also didn’t get really on a roll with reading until he was nearly 9. He doesn’t read much for pleasure–the most he’ll do is page through books–but he does read for information (mostly about video games on the Internet), and on the rare occasions on which I ask him to read aloud, he does so with really decent inflection. One thing that helped reading click was the 100 Easy Lessons book, which was given to us for Christmas that year (so I figured, why not give it a whirl? and we used it, but not as stringently as suggested in its introduction). But I didn’t push, and I’m glad, as he seems to be doing fine now with reading. –Julie
Karen Gibson, from Leaping from the Box blog, shared the story of her late reading athlete son, in a post entitled “Learning to Read, The Journey of a Late-Reader Homeschooler.” As she so eloquently states, sometimes it’s on-again, off-again for late readers. Another important point she brings up is that the child has to have a desire to learn to read, has to be developmentally ready, and the right process needs to be utilized. There were many factors that brought her son to reading around age 14. I truly believe learners like this would be no further along their reading path with years of tedious remediation, but surely they would feel much worse about themselves. What’s awesome is that the young person is still thriving in his holistic life.
(Linda shares her story about her two children who she pulled out of school after she saw it was doing more harm than good. She intuitively gave them that space to heal from that experience, but that didn’t mean she did nothing. She read a lot, and over time, they each came to reading. Did reading come even later because of the early negative school experience? Maybe, maybe not. It does show giving space and value to their natural learning path will result in reading.)
I’ll just start by saying that my daughter didn’t become a willing, fluent reader until she was 14! I guess it was about 12 or 13 for my son – but he has never really gotten “into” reading. They are both right-brain-dominant. They both have a.d.d. and dyslexia.
I never accepted the public schools’ (and mainstream private schools’) time-frame and notions about grade-level and testing and standards in the first place. My son was diagnosed with a “visual processing disorder”, and as “gifted” (that whole “twice exceptional” thing) when he was only 7. Looking back, I now realize that that was much too young to have done that kind of testing. But, as it was, I accepted that he was dyslexic, and saw the same issues (but more severe) with my daughter, who is 2 years younger, although we were never able to afford testing for her. I started homeschooling them when they were in 5th and 3rd grades, when the public school they attended finally became too horrible for me to tolerate any longer. (I would have started homeschooling more than a year earlier, but my husband was opposed to the idea.)
Knowing that reading was a struggle for them, I read aloud to them, A LOT, for years! I told and showed them how new words were spelled; we discussed new vocabulary words, grammar, and writing style; I encouraged them to try to spend *some* time reading to themselves, but didn’t force it. I sometimes asked them to read aloud a little bit – just a page, in my son’s case, or a paragraph, in my daughter’s case. Often I would read a paragraph aloud first, and then ask my dd to read it aloud. Knowing what the content was made it a little easier for her to read and understand the words herself. She had/has a tendency to not only see letters and words backwards or out of order, but to completely overlook/ miss punctuation marks, so the sentences didn’t make sense to her even when she figured out the words, because she didn’t see where to stop or pause. We also got audio books from the library, or bought them used if they were affordable.
More than reading to themselves, I encouraged my kids to watch all kinds of great informational and cultural TV shows and DVDs – programs about animals, nature, space, history, biographies, Shakespeare plays and Broadway musicals, dance performances, etc. We’re very into TV as a family, anyway, and I saw that my kids learned a lot even from shows that one wouldn’t think of as “educational”. (We are especially into fantasy and sci-fi.) We are also a very computer-geeky family, and my kids are highly computer-literate.
My son, now 21, has never become an avid reader, but he reads well enough to read what he has to. He is in college and is an honors student, majoring in computer science. My daughter, age 19, now enjoys reading, and we still enjoy reading aloud to each other on occasion. Reading aloud to each other makes it easy to discuss parts of a book as we come to them, and we like talking about books! (And videos, movies, TV shows, etc.)
Reading is only one of many good ways to take in information and entertainment (i.e., fiction). Every screenplay also started as written “literature”. Multi-media is a much better way for many RB people to take in words and ideas than reading. All the kids I know of who were raised with a high degree of freedom and acceptance, like my kids were, and allowed to develop and learn in their own way and time, and encouraged to love learning and literature, information and news, music and art and theater, etc, have ALL eventually learned to read well enough to do well in life – even those like my son, who never came to love reading fiction and learns best through other media. -Linda
Cathy from Born to Learn, Free to Learn blog, shared the story of her later readers in a post entitled “Late Readers.” Although her daughter was 7 when she learned to read, she thought that it seemed late for the interest her daughter showed. (I would say half the time, right-brained girls learn to read between 5 and 7 because of the female gene factor.) Her son was 12.5 when he really started his reading journey.
(Although Aimee’s story about her daughter shows her coming to reading around 8 years old, which may not seem that late to some, but for half the girls who are right-brained, they can often still read between 5 and 7. Most importantly is the process this young girl took to come to reading. Aimee clearly shows the typical right-brained path to reading so many take in being drawn to highly visual reading material like manga, and high interest books like the Warriors series. And I love how she shows that her daughter came to reading through reading … over time … with the right types of books *she* chose for herself … and was given the space to work it out.)
My daughter recently turned 11. We did a very small amount of phonics work (100 Easy Lessons) when she was about five (small = a couple of weeks), but she hated it. She was reluctant to sit down and do the lessons, she was grouchy during, and the lessons didn’t seem to stick. I backed off, and shortly after that, I learned that she was a right-brained learner. From then on, I did no reading instruction at all, but I did read to her about as much as she wanted (which was often a couple of hours a day). We have been unschooling; most would probably consider us radical unschoolers.
When she was 7, she started checking comic books, manga, and graphic novels out from the library. At first, I read them to her, but then she stopped asking me to and would just flip through them by herself. At some point, I think we both realized that she was reading more than she was guessing. The graphic books meant that she could have a satisfying reading experience without having to read every single word. Eventually, after maybe a few months, she’d read pretty much all the books they had at her interest level. She was particularly interested in the Warriors books. After she’d read all the manga versions at least twice, she started flipping through the regular novels when we were at the library. She did this a few times before she finally took the plunge and brought one home and gave it a try. It took her a couple of weeks to read the first one, but her reading skills were pretty much up to anything she might be interested in at this point, approaching her 8th birthday. I think there were two bursts of learning, one when she was a few months past 7, when she went from almost not reading at all to being able to read most of the words in a comic/graphic book. The other was a few months later when she really became a totally fluent reader. -Aimee
Lillian Jones hosts the Best Homeschooling website where she links to lots of different articles and resources. One of the articles is by Annette MacKay about her late reading LEGO building son entitled, “Reading: Slow and Gentle.” Annette shares how her builder son began to read at 10 years old, and it started off fairly steady and slow, and then eventually shifted into heavy reading. It reminds me a lot of my builder son’s reading process.