The Ontario Federation of Teaching Parents


Q & A: Experience with Late Readers

“Questions and Answers” is a forum for OFTP members to inquire, share and learn together. We look forward to your input and experience as we put forward questions and answers from home-learning families across Ontario.

Q: Help! Does anyone out there have experience with late readers? My daughter is seven and not reading well yet. She has resisted learning and I have tried to handle it in a relaxed manner, reminding myself that Grant Colfax did not learn to read until he was 10. However, with extended family members and group activities like Brownies, there is the expectation that she SHOULD be reading. At a sleep-over with her grandparents, who heavily disapprove of home schooling, they insisted that she couldn’t be given a “holiday” from her schoolwork, and that her “work” be sent along with her. I want my daughter to enjoy her family relationships and group activities. I am not a total unschooler but I tend in that direction. My reason for choosing homeschooling is that I really want my daughter to enjoy learning.

How did you handle family and social situations?

P.C., Markham, ON

A: This could be my child. Sabrina wouldn’t discuss reading or stay in the room if anyone tried to bring the subject up. Her older sister read at 3.5, so I think she felt a lot of pressure, even though we tried very hard not to do that to her. Anyhow, she, too was (probably) beginning to read at 7; I would occasionally come into a room and find her with a book, which she would immediately close and get up and leave. She is also a very physical person, she does circus three times a week, plus gymnastics once a week.

At 7.5, in our case, Sabrina began to read. We were pleased but didn’t make an enormous deal out of it. By 9.5 she so enjoyed having Lord of the Rings read to her that she started right in on it herself when we were done and read the whole thing twice through. She’s now 11.5, still very physical, still giving little time to academics, but she does enjoy reading for pleasure and reads all kinds of things, from Elfquest to science magazines.

Well, the first option is what I did. I’d be very wary of getting into any kind of “battle” over reading, as I can only foresee it taking longer for her to find her own way if she’s fighting you. She might never discover the enjoyment of reading if reading becomes a big issue between you. I’d let it lie. Read aloud, yes —– both my girls still enjoy our daily read-alouds, we now tackle stuff like Austen and Dickens and Hugo –— read on your own, you bet — — and share what you’ve enjoyed/learned from that.

And be positive about the successes she has, whatever they are.

Diana Sandberg

A: All 3 of my children were late readers, in fact my 9 year old is still not reading. In facing the world, especially your parents, it is important to remember that you are the parents of the child, not them, and you don’t have to answer to them. If you don’t want them doing schoolwork with your children that is your decision to make. I have seen cases were interfering grandparents have ruined their relationship with the children by this sort of interference.

As far as social situations with kids their own age, that is a tough one, but remember there are lots of late reading kids out in the schooled world too. My 2 eldest children are both excellent readers now so I have no regrets about letting them come to it on their own terms. I have to confess that it gave me fits to trust that it would ever happen because I so badly wanted them to validate my decision to homeschool them.

Whatever you do, keep reading to them.