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7 year old unable to read(63 Posts)
I wonder if I could get some perspective/advice please. My friend homeschools her ds7 and he can't read yet. She has expressed surprise at how well my 7 year old can read and says she doesn't know how to teach her ds to read. He is very bright, full of questions and interested in lots of things. They went to several homeschooling groups before lock down. Is it usual to be a late reader and has anyone any advice on the best way to teach him please?
This is very worrying. If i were you I'd be calling SS or the local EA so that they can check in on the family and make sure she's coping. You can do this anonymously.
Homeschooling works great for some people, but there are huge risks to children as well, some parents just aren't cut out for it and their children don't get the education they deserve. You have a chance to make a difference here, please step up and do what's right for this child. At 7, he should be able to read unless he has SEN, and if that is the case he needs an assessment and extra support ASAP. SS can help with all of this, or point your friend in the right direction.
Thank you. I don't want to interfere but have been worried for a while. I know you shouldn't compare children but the differences in basic abilities between her ds and mine is becoming more and more apparent. They are good friends and I can't help feeling sorry for this little boy even though he is a really relaxed happy little chap
I'd reach out anonymously and get them checked on. What are her reasons for keeping him out of school?
Very unusual in the U.K. unless there’s a special educational need. In some countries they deliberately teach reading later but it sounds like this isn’t a deliberate choice, rather she doesn’t know how. Home Ed is hard. Some parents do it brilliantly but it’s clearly not for everyone.
I don't think it's necessarily terrible. Schools need children to reach certain milestones by a schedule to fit in with school curriculum - it is a bit bonkers to think all kids are the same. There is some evidence from unschoolers that left to own devices kids will learn to read any time from 5 up to 11 or older.
However they need to be exposed to books, stories and read to. The 'I don't know how to teach reading' comment is very concerning. You would like to think anyone choosing to homeschool would have a clear idea of what they are doing - even if unschooling.
For f*cks sake DON'T report your friend to social services, that would be such a d*ck move i wouldn't be able to live with myself. Whilst SS offer a valuable service they are woefully underfunded and in some cases make the situation worse, so I'd only report someone to them if a child was in danger or being accused (no this does not count as abuse imo)
Kids in Norway don't even start school till they're six (sometimes seven years old) and research seems to support a later start to formal education is actually better for kids in the long run.
I'd suggest approaching this in a totally different way. Offer to help your friend instead, there are plenty of resources online, even whole Facebook groups dedicated to sharing best practice for homeschooling, perhaps get your kid to do some reading with hers (presuming they get on well socially)
Sounds like the child is ready and eager to learn so that's encouraging.
Furthermore, depending on what area you both live in the EA do monitor a child's academic progress so she'll presumable be keeping a record of the work she does with her DC and have some form of support from them already.
One of mine was not reading fluently until 7, another one was 10 before they were happily reading and the third one was reading fluently when they were 4 (all in school - well except the last one who taught themselves). It does really vary and I would say 7 is on the cusp of being concerned that there could be SEN. If he were in school if he couldn't read at all he would be having interventions but a struggling reader might not yet trigger anything, in my experience. Mine have visual disturbances which make reading hard, but we didn't know that at the time. One of them didn't really improve until they had tinted glasses, which we had to organise, the school was fairly useless as they could read enough to just about tick their boxes - for example 32/40 on phonics test so just passing.
Something like toe by toe might be useful for her to use whether he has a SEN or not. I do think though from my experience that although learning to read early has advantages, once they can read the playing field does level out (unless SEN) so although the early reader had many advantages when they were 7, by ten the differences begin to level off.
If he has never been taught then he could pick it up really quickly. She probably does need to sit down and start some more formal teaching with him. At 7 though he is likely to be more self motivated to learn to read now his peers can read. Trying to get my older ones to practice when they were 4,5,6 was torture for all of us, by ks2 they were more motivated themselves, even though it was still not easy.
I homeschooled over age 4-7 my son did not start to read til age 6 and half. I learned how to teach phonics... but good god that boy has not sounded out or blended a word from day one. He taught himself to read by memorising the words. He’s 12 now and in mainstream high school with a reading aha of 16+
I’m not sure Not being able to read at 7 is an issue per se - many euro counties don’t teach/enforce reading before 6-7. But I think it is an issue that your friend ha said they don’t know how to teach their child. This is a little worrying. I didn’t know how to teach either when embarking on home schooling, I sure as hell found out as much as I could.
Is it just the reading that’s a concern for you? I met many homeschooling families and genuinely thought at least half of them were doing it for the kudos and that their kids would be much better off in school... and hint of that and I’d detach. You can’t get through to people like that.
Is she following an unschooling philosophy and giving him plenty of chances to read, keeping lots of books at home going to the library etc? Is she reading to him? If so I wouldn't be too worried.
*homeschooled my boy
Oh, and don’t phone SS about reading... unless you think there are serious issues of neglect/abuse.
I think you should mind your own!
People saying report to SS because the child can't read 🤯 is the child well care for if yes then I don't think you should call SS and say my friends child can't read!
Some homeschoolers do not prioritise early reading in the way our school system does.
A friend from school homeschooled her two. The girl learnt to read about 7, the boy not until 10. We (the mum's old school friends) were - I fully admit - very worried, and quite judgemental, especially as her children also appeared to have no social skills whatsoever, and a very skewed knowledge base. They lived very rurally and knew lots about local fauna and flora but had no access to TV or internet or other children (not involved in any home ed groups, brownies, dance or anything), and appeared to know little of the wider world.
The contrast between them and the children of the other friends was painful on our twice yearly meet ups. They would cling close to their parents and mutter monosyllabically if directly addressed.
...Until they were about 16. They blossomed into delightful teenagers who could talk to anyone and who happily went off to 6th form then uni and now have good jobs and families of their own.
One went into nature conservation, but the boy who didn't read until he was 10 is now a doctor, so it didn't stand in his way at all. Neither homeschools their own children, by the way.
If it was an intentional choice to leave reading to a later age it would be alright (strange to me, but not alarming) some curriculum or home ed styles advocate waiting until children are older, or show an interest.
However if she or he wish for him to learn, and she's not able to teach him, she's been irresponsible not to get external help.
It's a balance isn't it? On one hand he is missing out on so much joy, on the other, he may be have escaped the pressures that the national curriculum and the current schooling regime puts on kids.
My concern would be that your friends homeschooling efforts aren't enough and that he will miss out on other things too if they can't nail this. Will his delayed reading delay the rest of his education or will the freedom mean that his education is more joyful than the average experience? (although I don't think school I'd joyless as such, just pressured).
Its interesting isn't it, because at what point does not being able to read in this situation become a kind of neglect? I don't think I'd report at this stage, but I think you might need to keep an eye on this for him
There are so many resources online she could look at.
Teaching him phonics then starting off with three letter words would be a start.
Can your friend read herself or maybe has dyslexia which she’s keeping secret?
Has he had an eye test ? Can he see clearly enough to read ?
If focussing on reading early leads you to use terms like "reach out", it's not really a recommendation.
7 isn't unusual, especially if not in a school setting. Schools need children to read earlier. Provided he is exposed to all the right opportunities when he is ready he'll grab it.
To be honest lots of countries don't teach reading until age 7. If he's naturally bright and inquisitive then he'll probably pick it up soon enough.
It wouldn't be the lack of reading that would concern me but the fact she says she doesn't know how to teach him. Surely if she is homeschooling him she should be able to research this herself and give him opportunities to develop his reading abilities such as visiting the library, exposing him to books, sharing stories with him, playing games which require him to read.
The list of ways to help him read is huge and the fact she says she has no idea on how to help him with something so important would worry me a lot.
My DD is almost 7 in school and really struggling. School think she might be dyslexic which I hadn’t picked up on, it might be difficult to pick up dyslexia if you are homeschooling and not familiar with it.
To be fair my 8 year old will only read if forced but there are clear steps in his progress and I think his level is probably average for his year.
I have different perspective, since in our country, the education only starts at 6/7, so I assume there are many who can't read at 7 if they weren't taught before starting school. But most of them will be able to read as soon as they start school.
If she doesn't know how to teach her dc to read, home schooling is not good option for her and her dc, assuming she has been teaching her dc to read since 4/5 like most English school does.
But if he isn't reading just because he isn't interested yet , there is a chance he will pick up pretty quickly once he is interested.