Thursday, May 14, 2009

Natural Reading & Writing

Learning to read and write looks very different than traditional reading instruction when you are living a Radical Unschooling life.

We were raised to believe that we have to learn so much before we can learn how to read. We are led to believe that it is extremely difficult to learn. We are told that we need to learn all about nouns, verbs, sentence structure, punctuation, long and short vowel sounds, just to name a few things that are drilled into our heads as little children through worksheets and tests.

This idea of learning to read would be the equivalent of making a child learn all of the inner workings of a bicycle, from gears to chains, to tire pressure, to how the bike was painted to how the seat was made...... all before they learned how to ride a bike. It is just unnecessary.

Natural reading is such a different process than most would picture it. It is very much like natural weaning vs. forced weaning. There is such a huge range of times when a child is ready to read, just like weaning. Anywhere between 5 and 15 years old is all on the range of normal when it comes to learning to read.

Our kids learn to read because reading is a useful tool to help them get what they want in life. Our kids have learned to read simply by being surrounded with the written word. They have learned through immersion in a world of letters. We are there to read and write things for them whenever they ask. We read books together when they want to.
I have always trusted that my kids would learn to read when they were internally motivated to do so and when their brains were ready.
Right now Tiff is really into Webkinz. She loves to go into the trading room and barter her goods. Over the last few months she has learned to read and and write dozens of phrases. Her vocabulary is growing and she is reading, Joyfully and confidently.
Our kids have never had formal reading lessons of any kind, but can read...
How do ya like them apples?


Sam said...

Awesome! I love when it all happens naturally, with joy.

mamak said...

most excellent!

Heather said...

Interesting and I have to agree!
I have an intense love of books and was always surrounded by hundreds if not thousands when I was growing up. My mom never forced books on me, but I was reading before I hit the door to Kindergarten because I wanted to :)

Nicole said...

Yes, Yes! I like those apples! ; )
We have always done child led learning in our home for weaning, learning to use the toilet, reading etc.
All of my kids have naturally and joyfully, when it was right for them learned to do all of these things! I love your attitude, and look forward to reading more of your blog! : )

Lisa has 6 girls said...

I wish more people understood this, and I wish I could explain things as well as you. When people ask me how they learn, I am stumped- they just do. Because they want to. My 6 yr old walks around all day with a pad of paper asking how to spell things, because she's always writing us love notes, lists, or stories. I doubt it would be more effective to force her to write words that don't help her communicate anything.

Sloan King said...

My daughter has been doing the same, except she is into looking up different animals and cartoons. Sometimes either she writes what she wants to look up, or we do it for her. Other times, she will sit at the computer and ask. We usually help her sound out the words. Because she is being driven by something that she wants to do, she has been learning new words by leaps and bounds. The other day we sat down to read a book together, and I was amazed at how much she knew on her own. In addition to this, she knows how to use the computer really well. Ofcourse we lost a couple of cable modems way back in the early days (our fault for leaving drinks on the computer desk), but it was a small price to pay for what she has learned. ;)


I had posted a comment stating my concern for my daughter Kayleen, she is 8 reading very little on her own. Thank you for this post, this makes so much sense and I will remember this next time I start to worry about her or have a feeling like I should get out some flash cards and work books.

Natalija said...

I just have found your blog and adore it. The idea of unschooling is so new for me and.. so True. I never showed my daughter how to read, I just told her names of the letters on the wooden blocks, because she was asking:"what is it?" She was one year old and memorized all the letters. Then, when she was about four she started to write words and after couple of months she was reading. I still do not understand how this happend. She told me, that she needed to read the TV program for the newspaper :)