When I was homeschooling my young children, I read all about reading. I read how some children don’t learn to read until age 8, 9, or 10 and that this is normal – just evidence of a child who is a “late developer” or one who isn’t ready for early formal education. I read a lot of articles comparing reading to walking. You know, parents don’t fret if their children learn to walk at 13 months vs. 11 months, children don’t fit a one-size-fits-all development pattern, “better late than early”, etc. All of that sounded pretty reasonable and gave me hope that my struggling reader would just wake up one day when he was “ready” and grab a novel off the shelf.
The problem with all this kind of advice is that it’s dangerous. While I’m not saying there may not be an occasional child that fits the above description, I believe far more 7 & 8 year-old (or older) children who are otherwise bright but who struggle with reading after being exposed to solid, phonics-based reading instruction suffer from dyslexia. In fact, research shows that up to 20% of the population may suffer from some form of this condition (whether mild, moderate or severe). And the problem with waiting for the magic “ah-hah!” moment to happen is that it’s literally the worst thing you can do!
As homeschoolers, we have a tendency to think we don’t need the experts. We know our children better than anyone and we are naturally equipped to teach and provide them with everything they need. But no parent can just naturally employ an Orton-Gillingham type of methodology in teaching their dyslexic children without being trained or educated in this approach. I thought I knew a lot about teaching, phonics, and how to teach reading, but Orton-Gillingham instruction is different. And this is the type of direct, explicit, multi-sensory instruction that dyslexic children need to make the necessary connections in their brains for reading fluency.
I urge any parent of a child who struggles with reading to educate yourself. Read the information on this site and others like it. Get your child tested. Take action. Become thoroughly educated about dyslexia and Orton-Gillingham instruction, or find an outside tutor who is. Homeschooling is a wonderful choice; it doesn’t mean we never need outside help. God bless you as your raise your precious children!