Why Reading Shouldn't Wait

The path of least resistance is attractive, it's easy, it's forgiving . . .

until it's not.

With the school year coming to a close, we've seen some posts out there about how learning to read/write, or formal schooling in general, can and should wait, until a child is fully "ready." The problem with this philosophy is that it typically advises parents to look for signs that their child is not ready, listing behaviors such as: breaking down in tears, blank stares, and defiance. The advice we keep seeing, if you're experiencing these responses, is to stop and wait until your child is "ready" for formal learning/teaching.

We're here to tell you that if your child is exhibiting these behaviors as a response to learning to read/write, we DO want you to stop and consider, but NOT wait. Instead, consider that these are common signs of a learning struggle, requiring specific and explicit teaching methods and intervention strategies. Tears and significant defiance are HUGE red flags that your child may be a struggling learner--trust us, the answer is NOT to avoid reading and writing...as that will only result in a larger learning gap down the road. 

But let's also address the elephant in the room here: learning to read and write is HARD! It's a culmination of many difficult skills that requires very explicit teaching, patience, and consistent and intentional practice for mastery. And indeed, "mastery" is a vast continuum over many, many years. It is NOT uncommon for a typical child to give push-back upon finding out that learning to read isn't easy. For most children, it doesn't come "naturally." Mountains of research supports literacy as a learned skill that is layered on TOP of natural language skills like listening and speaking. It takes TIME...it takes hard work, and many (dare I say most) kids simply don't like to sit and do hard work. Reading can feel like doing a chore, and we all know how kids (or adults for that matter) tend to feel about chores!  We caution you not to confuse your child complaining about reading/spelling work as a lack of "readiness". This is not to say we don't want to try to make reading fun (we're all about enjoyment), but few things are more  fun than accomplishing a new skill in small, manageable, successful steps!

The idea of reading "readiness" is a HUGE myth that continues to be perpetuated by self-proclaimed education/literacy experts everywhere! This is because the path of least resistance is attractive, it's easy, it's forgiving...until it's not. Over time, it's just as guilt-ridden as all the other paths, except one truth we all know is that you cannot get time back. Trust us when we say we've heard countless adolescents express the heartbreak of not knowing how to read when all their peers can. When it comes to reading, time is everything. Give your child the gift of TIME to learn the difficult skills of reading and writing in a way that is patient, scaffolded, explicit, and phonics-based. For more information on the prime range to begin formal reading instruction, watch this video on our YouTube page titled When is My Child Ready to Read.

Back to blog

Leave a comment